It’s been a little while since I sat down and watched High-Rise and after this time, I still don’t really know what to make of this movie. The best way that I can fathom reviewing High Rise and do it any sort of justice is to break it down.
1975. Two miles west of London, Dr. Robert Laing moves into his new apartment seeking soulless anonymity, only to find that the building’s residents have no intention of leaving him alone. Resigned to the complex social dynamics unfolding around him, Laing bites the bullet and becomes neighbourly. As he struggles to establish his position, Laing’s good manners and sanity disintegrate along with the building. The lights go out and the lifts fail but the party goes on. People are the problem. Booze is the currency. Sex is the panacea. Only much later, as he sits on his balcony eating the architect’s dog, does Dr. Robert Laing finally feel at home…..
((honestly, I went into this movie not having watched a trailer or reading a synopsis and I feel like this fills out a lot of questions I had for the movie, including when it’s meant to take place))
The cast for High-Rise is fantastic. The film is filled with a ton of actors that I’ve been following (and adoring) for ages including Tom Hiddleston, Sienna Miller, Jeremy Irons, Luke Evans, Elisabeth Moss, James Purefoy, Keeley Hawes, and Sienna Guillory (who is a criminally underused actress, IMO).
Hiddleston more or less plays every single character you’ve already seen him as apart from Loki so for me, his performance wasn’t really the standout role that you may or may not expect from him. He was good in the role but he plays a character meant to be a neutral party that is neither part of the elite upper class or the lower class. With that in mind, he does exactly what he set out to do.
Same goes for Sienna Miller. I like her but she basically plays a variation of the same sort of stuck up snot that I’ve seen her play numerous times before. She seems to be the go to woman for these roles and does extremely well with them.
The standout role for me goes to Luke Evans who is always on the edge of losing his humanity throughout the entire film. And yet despite wearing his insanity and rage on his sleeve, Hiddleston’s character calls him something to the effect of the sanest person in the complex at one point in time during the film.
James Purefoy isn’t in the movie a ton but he does a great job at being an upper class douche who is willing to do anything to get what he wants (which involves him being able to continue living the lifestyle that he has grown accustomed to).
I know I included the official synopsis for the film earlier but let me actually discuss a little bit of the story in my own words here.
It. Is. Batshit. Or in the eternal words of Gwen Stefani: “This sh*t is bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S.”
There you have it.
But seriously, that completely holds true. It’s a bonkers story that takes place in what feels like a pocket world of 1975 London. It feels partially futuristic, partially buried in the past, and partially post-apocalyptic. It kind of throws you off a bit.
We have the Architect of the building that all of these people are living in (as played by Jeremy Irons). He lives in what I suppose you could call The Penthouse, but is really that plus an entire rooftop garden, complete with a horse (seriously). I suppose it’s meant to be a statement on upper class privilege… *shrug*
The Architect and his wife hold lavish parties that only certain upper class citizens are invited to. All of this, including how the upper class treat the rest of the people in the building causes discourse.
I mean, I already gave you the official synopsis earlier on so I won’t parrot it back in my own words. The closest thing that I can compare High-Rise to would be A Clockwork Orange with maybe a touch of the series Black Mirror. It’s both beautiful and masterfully crafted but at the same time, completely crazy in every way. It’s a political statement that doesn’t shy away from in your face messages. Subtle is not one of the things that High-Rise manages to pull off, but to be fair, I don’t think it’s trying to be.
- Audio Commentary with Director Ben Wheatley, Producer Jeremy Thomas, Actor Tom Hiddleston
- JG Ballard Featurette
- Cast Interviews with Tom Hiddleston, Sienna Miller, Sienna Guillory, Luke Evans, Keeley Hawes, Jeremy Irons, James Purefoy, Elisabeth Moss and Dan Skinner
- Crew Interviews with Jeremy Thomas, Rob Entwistle, Paki Smith, Odile Dicks-Mireaux, Nick Gillespie, Neil Wallace, Mark Tildesley, Jamie Egner, Glenn Marks, Dan Martin & Andrew Wilson
- Alternative artwork and 6 limited edition art cards
See it. It’s definitely not a film for everyone. The 5.9/10 on IMDb definitely indicates that it’s a bit too smart for the masses, but it really is an interesting piece of cinema for those who are willing to slog through the in-your-face statements about the state of the world.
The film has several moments that drag on for a bit too long and the dots don’t connect as well as they could but it was a big, daunting project to adapt the novel of the same name by J. G. Ballard.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a SUPER LATE REVIEW (gosh, I’m sorry lovely people who sent us the review copy).