Director: Ben Wheatley
Writer: Amy Jump
Based on: J.G. Ballard‘s novel
Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans, Elisabeth Moss, James Purefoy, Keeley Hawes, Peter Ferdinando, Augustus Prew
Seen on: 18.7.2016
Laing (Tom Hiddleston) just moved to the 25th floor of a new apartment building. That building is equipped with pretty much everything and follows a very hierarchical structure. Soon Laing meets his neighbors. The alluring Charlotte (Sienna Miller) lives on the floor above him, documentary film maker Richard Wilder (Luke Evans) on the lower floors, together with his family. At the very top there is the architect and owner of the entire building, Royal (Jeremy Irons). Laing hopes to rise through the ranks and thus up the floors, but unrest starts brewing in the building more and more.
High-Rise is very stylish in many ways and definitely an interesting film, but it didn’t quite blow me away. Still there’s a whole lot going on that’s worth looking at.
Since Ben Wheatley’s films so far have ranged from horrible to meh for me, I can confidently say that High-Rise is my favorite film he made. It has an impressive look, both due to costumes and set design and the cinematography, and all the people are pretty. Tom Hiddleston is even naked, but that just on a sidenote. Slowmotion is used very effectively. The soundtrack is great (and not only due to the awesome SOS covers, one by a string quartett, the other by Portishead, though both of those are a special kind of awesome).
The cast is not only pretty, but also great. Especially Luke Evans stood out, finally being allowed to take on a role a little different from what he usually plays and portraying Wilder with verve. But of course, Tom Hiddleston and Jeremy Irons ran the show and they ran it well. I would have loved to see more of the women, though.
And that is one of my major gripes with the film. Of course, the apartment building is a not very subtle metaphor for society at large. And the film effectively shows that even in that system of limitations, women are even more limited in their choices and have to face humiliation and oppression by the men on every level. But when things start falling apart, the women start falling from view, making only weird and entirely unclear appearances and mostly as a group. It is also more than troubling that [SPOILER] Laing attests Wilder to be the sanest man in the building – after he rapes Charlotte [/SPOILER]. Instead of doing something with the implicit feminist criticism, they let it peter out.
The other thing that I found very irritating is that I have no idea about the timeframe in the stroy. How long was Laing living there before things started? How long did the riots last, how long the parties?
Despite the many strengths of the film, it just didn’t come together that well for me. That being said, though, there is enough of interest there that makes the film very much worth watching. And maybe the book is better with those weaknesses – I’ll read it and find out.
I cannot deny having as many questions after reading the book as before, not necessarily the same ones though. Also, I cannot deny finding the book as problematic as the film, not necessarily because of the same reaons though. And still, I am stunned by the fact that both still intrigue me.
Well, complexity and ambiguity, if done right, can be very intriguing, so I understand your feelings towards the film (and we’ll see if it will be the same for the book for me).
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[…] had been a little different, I would have skipped it (the film of his I liked best so far is High-Rise which I found at least interesting, everything else didn’t work for me at all). But there it […]