A NY story in an ensemble framework in which homosexuality is threatening to
take over Manhattan from the striving heteros whom we thought had a clear
majority. There's Glenn Close's acclaimed actress Diana who knows
Shakespeare like Nasa knows planets; her daughter Isabel (Elizabeth Banks), a
striving photographer who has much to learn about her lawyer fianc‚ Jonathan
(James Marsden); and, lingering on the periphery of everyone's destiny is
Alec (Jesse Bradford), an actor living upstairs. A destiny-deciding day in
the life, Manhattan style, with a surprise or two lurking in the wings.
Broadway theatre is a big factor, especially when Alec comes in for an
audition and emotes on stage with the lead, no less than the production's
star, Diana. An aging but powerful actor, she takes a shine to Alec in more
than a maternal way. The lady's out for a conquest. But, even at the
potential cost of throwing the part away, Alec couldn't be less interested.
But, the wily star checks his composite and sees that he lives upstairs in
her daughter Isabel's and fiancee Jonathan's apartment building. Small
island, this. So, when he leaves his green leather jacket behind, Diana
hands it off to Isabel, who hands it off to Jonathan, who leaves it on Alec's
In this largely improvisational piece, lives intersect, hopes raised,
relationships blurred, assumptions torn, and emotions unravelled. Just the
sort of thing a good team of New York actors can sink their teeth into, with
the question of who has slept with whom not only hanging in the balance, but
the crux of the whole multi-affair.
Glenn Close, who might well be the actress she portrays, comes dangerously
close (no pun intended) to weighing it down with too much profundity, though
I'll be quick to add that her anguish and disappointments balance that out.
She is certainly a presence, which weighs a mite heavily as far as interest
in her character goes. Such is the nature of an ensemble piece, I suppose
and, perhaps, the benefit of negotiating from a position of the kind of
strength she undeniably possesses.
Fortunately, the fox of the piece (Banks), whom I consider the film's selling
point, has no problem keeping all eyes focused on her Isabel as she leads the
corps of "interesting people" in her striving with career, marriage plans
that always seem tentative, and the general perils of New York neuroses.
~~ Jules Brenner