Festival Review: High-Rise (2015)


Adapting JG Ballard’s dystopian novel for the silver screen, Ben Wheatley’s High-Rise is a glamorous reproduction of the Seventies high life.

Man Up

by Alexa Dalby


CAUTION: Here be spoilers

Kill List’s Ben Wheatley’s take on JG Ballard’s dystopian futuristic fantasy has been long and eagerly anticipated. The premise of the sudden breakdown of society into violence and savagery among the residents of a luxury high-rise tower block gives ample scope for his blackly comic vision. His film is beautifully framed and spectacularly shot with stunning images, though nonstop-party scenes of increasing depravity are overlong. Production design is authentically ’70s and the eponymous tower block monolithically brutal. Tom Hiddleston is perfect as central character, Dr Robert Laing, who’s literally upwardly mobile – from the 25th floor to the heights of the spectacular penthouse at the invitation of the significantly named architect Anthony Royal (Jeremy Irons). Luke Evans bursts with aggression as Wilder, the pugnacious class warrior who leads incursions from the lower floors to the upper as electricity fails and rubbish piles up, sparking a class war as the upper-floor residents, partying dressed like doomed aristocrats from the court of Louis XVI descend and retaliate. And yet… Despite the high production values, cinematic brilliance and star-power of Elizabeth Moss, Sienna Miller, Sienna Guillory, Keeley Hawes and James Purefoy, at times its anarchy is too confusing to achieve its purpose. It’s left to Mrs Thatcher’s tacked-on paean to capitalism to hammer home the message.

High-Rise is now showing at the London Film Festival

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