Director: Ben Wheatley
Stars: Tom Hiddleston
Year Released: 2015
Running Time: 119 Minutes
Spoilers From This Point On:
“High Rise” takes place during the 1960’s in an ultramodern apartment building that provides its residents with every modern convenience. As the tenants spend more and more time isolated from the outside world, they eventually revert to brutal and primitive tribalism, with each group or social class jealously hoarding recourses while viciously attacking anyone perceived as an outsider. The actual plot is a bit random, due to the strange nature of the story and the fact that the movie is more about the building as a whole than any one character or storyline.
Still of the many people in the high rise and the ones we spend the most time on are: Dr. Robert Laing (Tom Hiddleston) a university professor of psychology who serves as our de facto main character and who slips into madness as the high rise slips into anarchy. Richard Wilder (Luke Evans) a liquor swilling, foulmouthed, perpetually horny, lower class cameraman, who is determined to ascend to the top floor of the building and confront the high rises architect, by whatever means necessary. Anthony Royal (Jeremy Irons) the architect of the high rise who was crippled in its construction. He considers the high rises he has built to be his greatest works and observes the chaos with the detached eyes of a scientist, even as his own family descends into savagery.
I think I enjoyed “High Rise” a bit more than others, due to the fact that I read the book that this movie was based on and got quite a bit of background on the ideas that went into its creation. The book and the movie wears both its English values and its 60’s era fears on its sleeves and a better understanding of English values and the attitudes of that day, will help you understand a very weird movie. The most important thing to remember is that of all the things engrained in the British mindset, conformity and classism have the most influence. This was especially true in the 60’s and “High Rise” reflects this. The high rise is divided by class and the higher up you are in the building the higher your class is. There is competition between the floors for resources even before the collapse (blackouts and water shortages are common) and each floor is quick to blame the one above or below it for all the trouble.
Despite the carnage most characters are so interested in keeping up appearances, that they seem totally in denial. Many residents keep going to work even as bloody warfare breaks out because after all, what would the neighbors think if you started slacking off. I’m completely convinced that most of the high rise resident didn’t even want to become modern day cavemen; they’re just going along with the crowd.
Despite its faithfulness to the book (which is impressive, given how weird and random the book can be) “High Rise” is not a perfect adaptation. In the novel we never find out what causes a pair of death that begin the high rises slide into anarchy. In the move however we know exactly what caused it, thought to the movies credit this knowledge gives us an important plot point. A lot of people will be turned away by “High Rises” strange story, bizarre visual style and schizophrenic plot. Fortunately I’m a fan of weird stuff like this so I loved every bizarre thing the movie could throw at me. While the wall to wall weirdness will be too much for some people I hope those interested in a more unconventional story will give this a chance. After all fears of human desensitization due to isolation are alive and well, with the internet now making it so that you never have to leave your home, every house can be a high rise.
Did I like the movie: Yes
Would I watch it again: Yes
Would I buy it: No
Look deep inside you self, what is it that you see: There are couple lungs and a stomach; I don’t recognize the other stuff. Meh, it’s probably just taking up space.