Based on the play by Amy Fox (who also co-wrote the script with director Chris Terrio), Heights follows several New York City based characters as they tumble in and out of each other’s lives over the course of a particularly hectic 24-hour period. We meet: Isabel (Elizabeth Banks) and Jonathan (James Marsden), a well-to-do young couple whose relationship isn’t quite as perfect as it seems; Diana (Glenn Close), Isabel’s mother and an Oscar-winning performer with a crumbling personal life; Alec (Jesse Bradford), a struggling actor who finds himself the object of Diana’s affection; and Peter (John Light), a Brit with a mysterious connection to Jonathan. Though it’s exceedingly well acted (particularly by Banks, a relative newcomer who does an amazing job), Heights simply cannot shake its stage origins; this is despite the best efforts of Terrio, who attempts to infuse the movie with a sense of grittiness by employing a handheld camera (a choice that becomes very old very fast). No, the reason Heights just doesn’t work can be attributed to the film’s distinct lack of depth; we never entirely get the feeling that there’s anything at stake for these people, something that’s exacerbated by the increasingly preposterous coincidences that pepper the storyline. The melancholy score, by Ben Butler and Martin Erskine, is the most effective aspect of Heights – although it’d probably be more appropriate in a better movie.

** out of ****

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