HEIGHTS (Chris Terrio). 93 minutes. Opens Friday (July 8). For venues and times, see Movies, page 93. Rating: NN Rating: NN
You know a film's in trouble when even Glenn Close reciting passages from Macbeth can't save it.
Close plays Diana Hill, a grand dame of the New York stage whose actor husband is sleeping around and whose daughter is getting married to a man with a secret past.
Since this is one of those ensemble films with interlocking narratives, we never get too close to Close. But watching her throw onstage tantrums, flirt with young actors and get quietly drunk at her own birthday party is great fun.
Too bad we have to sit through the endless scenes involving Diana's photographer daughter Isabel ( Elizabeth Banks ) and her lawyer fiancé Jonathan ( James Marsden ). Banks is petulant and bland - Parker Posey without the wit - while Marsden, of X-Men fame, relies on his cheekbones to express emotion.
Their stories interconnect with those of Alec ( Jesse Bradford ), an intense young actor who lives in their building, and Peter ( John Light ), a journalist assigned to write a story for Vanity Fair about a famous photographer - known for his promiscuity with men - who once slept with and photographed Jonathan.
First-time filmmaker Chris Terrio and novice screenwriter Amy Fox (adapting her own play) betray their lack of experience in the plodding seriousness with which they tell these predictable stories. Apart from Close, only Rufus Wainwright , as one of the photographer's other exes, comes through with anything resembling spontaneity.
On a lighter note, the filmmakers show a complete lack of knowledge of the magazine business. Peter's lead time for his Vanity Fair assignment is ridiculously short.
This was the first New York-set film produced by the Merchant-Ivory team ( Ismail Merchant died last month) since their disastrous adaptation of Tama Janowitz's Slaves Of New York. Cross the Atlantic, please.