A Merchant Ivory Film
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penned by Amy Fox, opens June 17
JUNE 2, 2005
– When the new, surprisingly contemporary Merchant Ivory
film Heights is released in theaters on June 17, it will be the
culmination of more than five years of work by the story’s
creator, playwright/screenwriter Amy Fox. Heights has already
screened at the Sundance Film Festival, where it received tremendous
by Fox during a writing class in 1999, the story that has become
Heights has grown from a 25-minute three-character play set on
a New York City rooftop into a whirlwind odyssey in which the
fates of dozens of characters intersect over the course of a 24-hour
The film stars
Glenn Close, James Marsden, Elizabeth Banks, Jesse Bradford, and
John Light, and is directed by Chris Terrio.
The plot unfolds
as Isabel (Elizabeth Banks), a photographer, is having second
thoughts about her upcoming marriage to Jonathan (James Marsden),
a man she's not sure she really knows. Isabel's mother, Diana
(Glenn Close), a legendary actress, learns that her husband has
a new lover and begins to rethink some of her life choices. Diana
and Isabel cross paths with Alec (Jesse Bradford), a struggling
actor, and Peter (John Light), a journalist whose research may
uncover secrets that will affect all five characters' lives.
the decisions we make," says Fox, 29. "You make a decision
and you think you've weighed all the factors -- but it's still
impossible to foresee the consequences. Even if you make all the
right choices, you can end up in a far different place from the
one you expected."
process began after the late Merchant Ivory Executive Producer
Ismail Merchant saw Anita Gates' New York Times review
of Fox's play, which premiered at the Ensemble Studio Theatre
in New York, and commissioned her to adapt it into a screenplay.
In the script that emerged over the next several months, the story
took on new characters, a more complex plot and several additional
The main characters,
however, remained. "It was the interactions between these
three characters that formed the backbone of the play. That's
what I wanted to keep when we made the transition from stage to
screen. It's their personalities and complexities that make this
an interesting story. When I went to write the screenplay I simply
backed up and asked myself how these characters would have gotten
into this situation," says Fox.
In many ways,
Heights represents new territory for Merchant Ivory, which is
better known for elaborate costume dramas and meticulously crafted
historical films than for stories with a contemporary setting.
"But Merchant Ivory makes movies that are grounded in their
setting and in their characters. In that respect, this is Merchant
Ivory filmmaking at its best," says Fox.
-- including several full length and one-act plays that have been
produced in New York, London, and throughout the U.S. -- is known
for its empathy and humanity. "I've been writing for as long
as I can remember -- it's the way that I've always made sense
out of my experiences in the world," says Fox. "My characters
have depth and inner conflict and it's their struggles that drive
the plot, not the other way around."
in serious themes and serious questions, but I try to handle them
with a light touch. On a line-by-line level, my writing can be
funny," says Fox.
The press agrees.
The New York Times has called Heights "an ingenious
puzzle of love and deception." Variety says it's
"marbled with wit and heartache" while The Miami
Herald writes "Heights is the movie I wanted Closer
to be … an eviscerating look at the state of modern relationships."
The film has also been featured in Playboy, O: The
Opera Magazine, Vogue, and The Advocate.
to write plays, screenplays and fiction from her home in New York
City, where she has lived since 1997. She is currently working
on a novel. Her next film script is Stuvesant Town, about the
struggle against housing discrimination in 1940s New York City,
and it has already attracted the attention of academy-nominated
director Joan Stein.
Fox is a graduate
of Amherst College and will receive her Master's degree, in fiction
writing, from Brooklyn College in May 2005. She teaches playwriting
and screenwriting classes for adults at Gotham Writer's Workshop
and also teaches literature and composition to college undergraduates.
She is originally from Boulder, Colorado.
The play Heights
is published by Dramatist's Play Service as part of a compilation
called Thicker than Water.
For more about
Amy Fox, or to arrange an interview, please visit www.amyfox.net
or call 917-744-5557. More detail about Heights is available at
heights.amyfox.net. The film's official Web site is www.heights-movie.com.