High rise is a gruesome display of metaphors, similes and satire based in a society of natural decay. With some strong performances but with a plot that will only truly make sense to fans of the novel, this truly is a film that will split opinion.
Life in the High Rise seems perfect until a series of events create cracks in the seemingly ideal community.
From the outside, Ben Wheatley has done a fantastic job at creating a bizarrely chaotic world for which we can see a society begin to break down. Set in the 70’s, the set design and general look of the film is incredibly authentic. From the low rent apartments on the first level right through to the penthouse suites at the top, every detail has been meticulously thought about and in turn, sets the tone for what’s to come.
Unfortunately however, once we get past the aesthetics, we begin to run into some problems. The story is, for a better word, crazy. The slow breakdown of society is obvious with each scene throwing us further down the rabbit hole is interesting – its just a shame that in order to understand why, you need to have done your homework first. Without context, most of the scenes feel quite out of place while others just feel pointless. Its this lack of understanding that becomes more frustrating that intriguing as it just causes the audience to lose concentration rather than build up tension.
Tom Hiddleston and Jeremy Irons are without a doubt the focal point performance wise. Hiddleston is great as lead Laing, while Irons plays the curious part of High Rise designer, Royal. These two are easily the more interesting characters but again, without the necessary reading, what starts as intrigue ends in confusion in that they never really reach their potential. Sienna Miller and Luke Evans were an odd choice to round the cast off (Ben Whishaw would probably have been amazing somewhere in there), but fortunately their performances aren’t the worst and don’t take away from the chaos on screen.
Overall, this is a film that needs context before it can be fully imagined. If you read the film beforehand, this will most likely be a masterpiece but without prior knowledge the screenplay does little more than move from one scene to the next without building our understanding of the ensuing breakdown. For now, this gets 2 out of 5 but will update as to whether this improves when the book has been read!