Since the modern cinema could easily be said to have a chronic Glenn Close deficiency, it seemed just peachy when the 24-hours-in-some-New-Yorkers'-lives flick Heights opened with a good dose of the lady herself, only to see watch the film spend far too much of the rest of it dealing with other, lesser characters. Close plays Diana Lee, a famous actress moonlighting as an acting teacher who, in that opening scene, tears apart two of her students in front of the whole class, castigating them for their rote recitations of Macbeth. She declaims the modern age's loss of grand emotions and the substitution of meekness, fairly screaming at her worshipful wannabes, "Passion!" If only the movie that proceeded from that point had followed her advice.

As possibly the last film to come out from Merchant Ivory Productions before the May 2005 passing away of Ismail Merchant, Heights is a good deal more lively than the stiff-necked product the duo became known for, but still suffers from a certain bloodlessness. Based on a one-act play and stretched to its limit, the film follows a few New Yorkers through their day as they run about Chelsea and downtown, leading artistic lives and holding some very obvious secrets. Somewhere along the way the viewer is supposed to go "ah!" as the disparate elements come clicking together, but they're more likely to have lost interest at that point, as the light comedy is continually interspersed with a leavening of twentysomething lassitude.

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