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
The information in the apartment "Welcome pack" which appears briefly at the start of the film (when Laing first moves in) is mostly nonsense. Under the heading "Market," it says "The market is one of the most extensive in London" then the rest of the paragraph goes on to explain the usage of the swimming pool - totally unrelated to the market.
Then under "State-of-the-art lift system" there are two sentences about the lift, and the rest is about adopting animals, dog walking, caring for animals etc. Again, totally unrelated to the lift system. See more »
When Royal descends to the lower floors, he is seen with and without his blood stained jacket. See more »
For all its inconveniences, Laing was satisfied with life in the high-rise. Now that so many of the residents were out of the way, he felt able to relax. More in charge of himself. Ready to move forward and explore life. How and where, exactly, he had not yet decided.
I see the rot's set in. Do you fancy a drink? Cosgrove is here. All boys together.
[indicates a dead man]
Sometimes he found it difficult not to believe they were living in a future that had ...
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JG Ballard's dystopian science fiction novels have long been regarded as being unfilmable. Ironically it was Steven Spielberg who first made a film of one of his books, the autobiographical Empire of the Sun which was also more conventional.
In High Rise the building clad in some kind of neo 1970s decor is really the star as it represents the social strata. A society in decay. The film opens where there has been a total nihilistic breakdown amongst the occupants where we see a man roasting a dog's leg before we jump back three months earlier.
Dr Robert Laing (Tom Hiddleston) is a middle class doctor, almost an every-man who is at ease both going up and down the social classes in the tower block. He is helped by Charlotte Melville (Sienna Miller) a sexy neighbour who helps Laing get to the upper floors where tastes are more refined. Better parties, music, swimming pool and restaurants for example.
Richard Wilder (Luke Evans whose get up reminds me a lot of actor Stanley Baker) is a truculent documentary maker who lives near the ground floor with his wife and children amongst the rest of the block's poorer tenants. Wilder is aware and resentful of the inequality that exists in building. He has to put up with electricity outages, lifts not working properly, inferior restaurants, shops, parties. Wilder wants to expose the building's architect Anthony Royal (Jeremy Irons) who lives on the top floor and he also happens to be Laing's occasional squash partner.
As we head towards hedonism, one-upmanship, sex fuelled violence the narrative structure of the film breaks down. The descent into madness is too rapid as Laing suddenly starts to paint his room and himself. The film becomes disjointed although we see some of the upper floor residents who wish to Balkanise the lower floors and re-organise the place more to their benefit.
It is as the novel was just too big and intricate to just chew off and director Ben Wheatley did not have the budget and resources to do it justice.
The film ends with the words of Mrs Margaret Thatcher former Prime Minister of Britain who did so much to ramp up the divisions between rich and poor in the 1980s.
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