A review of “Heights” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: *** 1/2

Rating: R for language and nudity

Run Time: 1 hour, 33 minutes

 

 

Six-degrees-of-separation continues to be a delicious cinematic theme and debut director Chris Terrio works his dramatic magic on the absorbing genre with a crack ensemble of talent.

Up-and-coming New York City photographer Isabel (Elizabeth Banks) is engaged to a handsome lawyer (James Marsden as Jonathan) but having second thoughts about the union.  Isabel’s stage-and-screen celebrity mom Diana (Glenn Close) is in the midst of her own moral quandary, questioning the terms of her open marriage to a straying producer.

Enter struggling actor Alec (Jesse Bradford) who is auditioning for a role in Diana’s new play.  On the same day ambitious English journalist Peter (John Light) is pursuing Jonathan for an interview regarding his former involvement with a controversial male photographer – the subject of Peter’s Vanity Fair article.

A consistent theme runs through this smart day-in-the-life-of charmer; that of passion and the fine art of being consumed by it. Life throws our floundering quintet a number of curveballs in a brief 24-hour period, most handled with creative subtlety and pleasing emotional depth. Credit to the writing; pithy, witty and slightly to the right of melodramatic.

Performances are pitch perfect albeit a touch stagy, in particular the stunning work of Close who is a whirling dervish of heightened sensation. Heights saves its best for last, dropping a narrative bomb when you least expect it and leaving a lingering residue of surprise.