High-Rise

"Weak"

High-Rise Review


After a string of award-winning arthouse hits like Kill List and A Field in England, director Ben Wheatley and writer Amy Jump stumble with this adaptation of the 1970s J.G. Ballard novel. The satirical dystopian setting offers buckets of eye-popping visual style, plus outrageously twisted characters the A-list cast have a lot of fun sinking their teeth into. But while the themes are strong, the people on screen are so aggressively loathsome that it's not an easy movie to watch.

It's set in a brutal concrete tower within commuting distance of London, where new resident Robert (Tom Hiddleston) is learning his way around the building's modern, self-contained design. He especially enjoys flirting with his sexy upstairs neighbour Charlotte (Sienna Miller). But the building has a social structure that is creating some serious tension. Wealthy residents like the tower's architect Anthony (Jeremy Irons) live at the top, while economically struggling families like Helen and Richard (Elisabeth Moss and Luke Evans) are closer to the ground, with middle-class families in between. So when the lower floors lose their supply of water and electricity, they revolt against the upper classes, waging all-out war in the hallways.

The political commentary is astute and perhaps even more timely today than it was in 1975, when the novel was written and when the film is set. And each of the characters is full of energy and anger. So it's frustrating that the choppy editing style seems to lose track of people and plot-threads as it shifts around to various angles on the action. This makes all of the violence and sex feel oddly random and excessive, as things get increasingly nasty and each of the people loses the audience's sympathy. Hiddleston has terrific presence, but the film kind of abandons him along the way. While Irons is hamming it up shamelessly, Evans is inexplicably brutal and both Moss and Miller are little more than victims.

Every element on-screen looks amazing, with witty sets and costumes that cleverly play up the chasm between rich and poor. It's also very clever to make a movie that plays with Thatcherite politics to explore the restlessness of the 99 percent today. But without a single character the audience can sympathise with, and none who are charismatic enough to grab hold of the imagination, the movie simply never resonates. It may please fans of jarringly abrasive movies, but everyone else will be hoping that Wheatley and Jump have a story that's a bit more coherent next time around.

Rich Cline

Watch the trailer for High-Rise:



High-Rise

Facts and Figures

Genre: Thriller

Run time: 119 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 28th April 2016

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

IMDB: 6.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Dr. Robert Laing, as Charlotte Melville, as Anthony Royal, as Richard Wilder, as Helen Wilder, as Nathan Steele, Peter Ferdinando as Cosgrove, Daniel Renton Skinner as Simmons, as Pangbourne, as Fay, as Ann Royal

Contactmusic


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