High-Rise is directed by Ben Wheatley and is based on the 1975 novel of the same name. It follows Dr. Robert Laing (played by Tom Hiddleston), a new resident in a tower-block designed for the wealthy to live on higher floors whilst the poor live near the bottom. When the building experiences a number of substantial power-cuts, all hell breaks loose.
I was expecting High-Rise to resemble Snowpiercer (because they both use an inanimate object to represent society) but Snowpiercer used that metaphor with a lot more literal meaning than High-Rise.
The lifestyles of the upper-floor residents are excessive and lavish but the way they are presented in the film is wonderful and clever. Their dialogue is annoying but you believe that’s how the upper-floor residents would behave.
I am very tempted to explore Ben Wheatley’s filmography as this film shows some great directing talent. Every shot is visually sensating, every camera movement feels natural and every line of dialogue feels right.
Bad movies make you want to leave the cinema. Good movies entertain you. Great movies make you forget that you’re watching a movie. High-Rise, if not for a few tiny scenes, made me forget I was watching a movie. If it weren’t for a few short montages exploring different character’s current doings, this film would have me believing I was in that high-rise building.
One of the better qualities of this film was that the characters were believable. It was believable that someone on the bottom floors, an alcoholic documentary filmmaker to be exact, would garner the hateful attention of the upper-floor’s residents. It was also believable that the creator of the building would be ashamed at what the wealthy residents had made of the situation. It felt believable that those wealthy residents would think the whole situation a game.
Three performances stood out in High-Rise, those of Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons and Luke Evans.
Tom Hiddleston plays the person who lives in the building for privacy and luxury but in moderation. As soon as he appears on screen, you believe he is that person.
Jeremy Irons plays Anthony Royal, the inventor and keeper of the high-rise building and even though my first impression was “that’s Jeremy Irons”, as the story progressed, I believed that he was Anthony Royal.
The stealing performance of the film would have to be Luke Evans who plays one of the lower-floor residents who is the chief catalyst for the building descending into anarchy.
With great performances, a highly original story, visually stunning cinematography, crisp dialogue and a wicked sense of humour (and I mean very wicked), High-Rise is definitely worth checking out if the concept appeals.
High-Rise may become a little bit like American Psycho. It’s not receiving good reviews now but it deserves more credit. Over time, I feel that it will become more acclaimed.
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