Parents' Guide to


By Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Adapted play is too urbane and uncompelling.

Movie R 2005 96 minutes
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Urbane and on occasion banal, HEIGHTS reveals its origins as a stage play in its literary dialogue and tidy metaphors. Isabel takes lots of pictures of the Korean grocer across the street. While it's starting to bother Jonathan, she's still thinking about how she can get a "higher angle." Tomorrow, she asserts, "I'm going to the roof." She can't possibly know that going to the roof will reveal more than a different look at the grocer. The aggressive Diana and security-seeking Isabel appear very different, but they are also similar and eventually, visibly supportive of one another. Both use art as means to control their experiences -- Diana by acting, Isabel by framing what she sees in images (one mother she photographs on the subway resents out loud that she doesn't appear to have her "own f-ing life").

Limited by her desire for what she thinks is a "life," Isabel wants to believe Jonathan's assertion that they are "real people... having a very real wedding." But the film reveals early that he keeps a secret past from her -- that he posed for a famously gay photographer. It's no coincidence that the secret lurks in the form of photographs, or that Isabel resists seeing what's in front of her. While Diana finds both release and control in performance, Isabel seeks order in her photographs. Seeking the sort of life her mother hasn't had, Isabel finds other ways to deceive herself.

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