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High-Rise (2015)

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Life for the residents of a tower block begins to run out of control.

Director:

Ben Wheatley

Writers:

Amy Jump, J.G. Ballard (novel)
Reviews
Popularity
2,596 ( 591)
4 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tom Hiddleston ... Laing
Jeremy Irons ... Royal
Sienna Miller ... Charlotte
Luke Evans ... Wilder
Elisabeth Moss ... Helen
James Purefoy ... Pangbourne
Keeley Hawes ... Ann
Peter Ferdinando ... Cosgrove
Sienna Guillory ... Jane
Reece Shearsmith ... Steele
Enzo Cilenti ... Talbot
Augustus Prew ... Munrow
Dan Renton Skinner Dan Renton Skinner ... Simmons (as Dan Skinner)
Stacy Martin ... Fay
Tony Way ... Robert the Caretaker
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Storyline

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

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Leave the real world behind See more »

Genres:

Drama | Horror | Sci-Fi

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence, disturbing images, strong sexual content/graphic nudity, language and some drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

28 April 2016 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

High Rise See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$79,887, 15 May 2016

Gross USA:

$346,472

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$4,289,074
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color | Black and White (super8 footage)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In early 2009, Vincenzo Natali was attached to write and direct this movie. In late 2010, he was joined by Richard Stanley, who helped him writing a new draft of the script which Natali was very happy with, but in the end was not produced. See more »

Goofs

At one point there's a car right outside the building with a clearly made-up number plate. Something like DAE 080X. The leading zero is incorrect, X is 1981 (the film is set in the 1970s) and the number plate font is the newer post-2001 one. A shame as the effort to amass all the cars must have been huge. See more »

Quotes

Ann: Right, which one of you bastards is going to fuck me up the arse?
See more »

Connections

References Morgan! (1966) See more »

Soundtracks

Spoon
Written by Michael Karoli, Jaki Liebezeit, Irmin Schmidt, Holger Czukay, Kenji Suzuki
Published by Messer Music Ltd c/o Bucks Music Group Ltd
Performed Can (as CAN)
Courtesy of Spoon Records
See more »

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User Reviews

 
High-Rise's allegory of class divide gets lost in a dull montage of blood, sweat and blue paint
17 April 2016 | by HawkensianSee all my reviews

Ben Wheatley is one of the most exciting British directors working today. His two best films are Kill List, a deeply disturbing horror/thriller about a tormented contract killer, and Sightseers, a black comedy about a troubled couple on their parochial, psychopathic honeymoon.

Key to these films' success are strong characters with interesting dynamics. Kill List begins almost like a domestic kitchen-sink drama centred on the failing relationship between Jay (Neil Maskell) and Shel (MyAnna Burning), but it subsequently evolves, or rather devolves, into something dark, dank and horrible in a most unpredictable manner. Sightseers may be most commonly remembered for its scenes of outlandish violence, such as when Chris (Steve Oram) deliberately runs over a litterer in a fit of righteous anger. However, underneath the comic outbursts of gore is the poignant relationship between Chris and Tina (Alice Lowe), an oddball pair with a past of loneliness and insecurity.

Having proved himself as a director of visceral horror and emotional substance, Ben Wheatley is the natural choice to direct J.G. Ballard's High-Rise, a Goldingesque tale of violent class war exploding within a brutalist tower block. The fragility of civilisation, and the primitive savagery that lurks beneath it, is a darkly fascinating subject that has made for excellent films and books, such as Threads, a devastating vision of post- apocalyptic Britain, and William Golding's Lord of the Flies, which needs no introduction.

High-Rise does not brush shoulders with such works, for its allegory of class divide gets lost in a dull montage of blood, sweat and blue paint. Oh, and dancing air hostesses, for reasons that are, to put it politely, enigmatic.

The focal characters – Robert Laing (Tom Hiddleston), a measured, middle class doctor; Charlotte Melville (Sienna Miller), a sultry woman who serves as Laing's gateway in to upper floors' high culture; Richard Wilder (Luke Evans), a pugnaciously aspirational documentary maker; and Anthony Royal (Jeremy Irons), the patrician architect who designed the building – are introduced well enough, but ultimately do not receive sufficient development.

As the lead and perhaps most relatable character, we are in the body of Laing when he traverses the tower's social scene, which he admits to 'not being very good at'. Some may find him steely, but Laing has an affable reserve and high emotional intelligence. He isn't particularly interested in the petty one-upmanship that comes with climbing the social ladder, but he manages to deftly negotiate it anyway through his insouciant reserve that maintains peoples' interest and disarms any potential enemies. Hiddleston, one of Britain's hottest exports, is well cast here, he delivers the best performance of the film.

However, after a competent introduction to society in the high rise, Laing and the others get lost in an incoherent narrative that favours aesthetics and absurdity over credible character interplay. It begins three months ahead of the main events, showing a blood spattered Laing roasting a dog's leg over a fire surrounded by dirt and detritus. After the introductory period of around thirty minutes, the film then charts what led to this repellent spectacle with a disjointed series of set pieces that give little sense of progression.

Electrical problems are plaguing the building and resentment is brewing between the upper and lower floors, but the descent into nihilism just… happens. Dogs are being drowned, Laing's painting his apartment (and himself) like a total madman and the whole building becomes a rubbish-strewn nightmare – but there's no tension, no crescendo, no credibility and, curiously, no one who considers leaving! The worsening relations should have been more gradual and given much greater depth and meaning by the characters, their dialogue and their relationships. Instead, the main character covers himself in paint to communicate his increasingly aberrant state of mind, which appears to be an obvious metaphor for tribal decorations.

High-Rise fails as a film about primal savagery and particularly as a film about class. In Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine, I cringed as Jasmine and her husband Hal, arrogant members of New York high society, barely contained their raging superiority complexes as they awkwardly condescended to Ginger (Jasmine's sister) and Augie, a decidedly blue collar couple who wonder at Hal and Jasmine's luxurious home. No such realist interplay is to be found in High-Rise, because its characters are thinly drawn and it isn't rooted in reality, which is very much to its detriment.

Towards the film's end, there are moments in which Royal and his minions discuss the politics and future of the tower, with Royal remarking that the lower floors should be 'Balkanised', meaning that they should be fragmented and pitted against each other in a manner reminiscent of the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s. I liked the use of that phrase, there should have been a lot more of this in the script, more overt political manoeuvring rather than surrealist claptrap and brutalist 70s chic.

Alas, Wheatley's High-Rise is more concerned with aesthetics and the 1970s, which means there's more in the way of shag-pile carpets, dodgy hair and the colour brown than developed characters, coherent narrative structure and sociopolitical substance.

58%

www.hawkensian.com


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