Unraveling like a breezy mystery novel, Chris Terrio’s delightful Heights pokes its nose into the lives of a quartet of interconnected Manhattanites who – over a 24-hour period – try to resolve their unsteady romantic relationships.

Isabel (Elizabeth Banks) is a young photographer anxious over her imminent marriage to

... Jonathan (James Marsden), a temperamental lawyer and former model with issues that link him with

... Alec (Jesse Bradford), a struggling actor facing a career breakthrough after a successful audition for an Off-Broadway play being directed by

... Diana (Glenn Close), a legendary actress whose jealousy over her husband’s affair with her understudy compels her to try to abort the marriage of her daughter

... Isabel.

Adapted by Terrio and Amy Fox from Fox’s short play, Heights succeeds at its relatively modest ambition of demonstrating how people sometimes need intervention – intended or otherwise – to make proper choices.

There is little question from the moment we meet Isabel and Jonathan that their relationship is in trouble. He is unreasonably jealous and she is unreasonably patient with him.

Meanwhile, Diana’s supposedly open marriage is a sham. She aggressively dallies with whatever straight men she finds around the theater, but it’s a defensive reaction to her husband’s philandering, not a compelling need.

The catalyst in the story is Benjamin Stone, a bisexual photographer who is never seen but whose coming exhibit in a Manhattan gallery will greatly affect the lives of our four characters.

Close is amazing in her depiction of a would-be acting coach who cannot tell her teaching philosophy from her internal pain. Diana is a Method actress building emotional memories as she goes. She’s a lie in progress, and Close turns us into frustrated, passive observers.

Despite efforts to "open" the film up with street scenes and trips to the theater, Heights is stage-bound throughout, and the secrets it would like to keep are very predictable.

But its heart is in the right place, and the performances are first-rate.

Grade: B

© 2005, New York Daily News.

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

Heights is currently in theaters.