Class struggle becomes all too real as a young doctor moves into a modern apartment block in suburban 1975 London. Drugs, drink & debauchery dissolve into murder, mayhem and misogyny in this pseudo-post-apocalyptic breakdown of societal norms.Written by
David R Turner
When Laing cuts into the human head during the pathology / dissection scene, blood is shown flowing from the fresh incision. This is medically impossible, as blood ceases to flow once a person is deceased; even more so when the head has been long since detached from the rest of the body. See more »
Stylish and darkly humorous, at times ugly and unsettling!
High-Rise is director Ben Wheatley's 5th full length feature (Down Terrace, Kill List, Sightseers, A Field in England) his biggest budget and his most ambitious. An adaptation of J.G. Ballards novel of the same name, although I haven't read the book I do hear that it's a pretty faithful telling. The film is full of stunning imagery and crammed with dreamlike (and at times nightmarish) moments. It seems to be one big metaphor on social status and class systems.
Neurologist Dr. Laing (Tom Hiddleston) moves into a futuristic looking tower block in the 1970's. Only to see the new society crumble into age old violence.
The main character of the film is the High-Rise itself, the whole movie set/shot within its walls barring the brief commute to Laing's office. The Architect (Jeremy Irons) goal was for a seemingly self sustaining society with everything needed to survive and thrive having its own supermarket and gym etc. It's also mentioned at one point that one of the tenants hasn't left the building in years. Although still dealing with "teething" problems with regular power outages and chute blockages (A catalyst for the violence that arise between the levels). The question can be asked as to why the inhabitants don't just leave the complex once the chaos starts? As the doors are always open but it's clear these people seem to be wholly dependent on it. Trapped on their levels of society and unable to move any further up.
The performances are great all round with nice turn-outs from Seinna Miller and Elisabeth Moss but for me Luke Evans as the (in the end) savage Richard Wilder steals the show a seemingly natural leader for the lower levels who becomes devoted to exposing the violence and mayhem that's descending within the buildings walls, and the creator himself Jeremy Irons is fantastic as usual giving a slightly ethereal feel to the proceedings. Tom Hiddleston is our centerpiece and our eye amongst the chaos being able to shift between classes. Excellent in the role (and between this and the BBC drama John Le Carre's The Night Manager) it's clear to see why he has become the icon/sex symbol he is.
The main strength of the film is not the at times over convoluted plot or the loose narrative but the visual flair and bravura showmanship that Ben Wheatley and his crew deliver. Some of the Slow-Motion shots are breathtaking (Similar to the technique he showed in the minute budget for A Field In England) I feel he has only enhanced his reputation where some directors who have made good films with low budgets fail given the much larger scale to work with. The editing is tight and add to that Clint Mansell's brilliant score which elevates what is happening on screen building tension and atmosphere where there should be none. There is also a great cover of Abba's SOS which works ever so well.
High-Rise is certainly not without its flaws the plot is all over the place at times to which certainly in the last third the plot kind of becomes irrelevant a next to non-existent narrative making it hard to follow. All that in turn makes it suffer with a lack of empathy with many of the characters and once the mayhem and unpleasantness is in full swing the violence can feel monotonous, making the third act tension free and meaningless. The performances and the arresting cinematography keeps your eyes peeled even if your attention to the plot is wavering.
Darkly humorous and at time ugly and unsettling certainly flawed but undoubtedly entertaining/repulsive. A bold picture that's definitely not for everyone but for me it's exciting to see what Ben Wheatley and co come up with next.
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