high-rise 2015

High-Rise [2015] is an adaptation of the classic novel by J.G. Ballard directed by Ben Wheatley. It stars Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans, and Elisabeth Moss. It is a movie. It has sex, and violence, and parties. It is life. It has everything you need. It is you. It is everything you are.

It Is Chaotic. Based on the novel written in and taking place during the 1970’s this film follows a group of residents in a newly constructed high-rise as things run out of control. Everything goes awry. Everything falls apart. The film captures some kind of obscure controlled chaos, floating the audience through shocking and claustrophobic scenes filled with debauchery, fear, and anger. Many of these scenes last what feels like a minute or two too long, much of them are consumed by a powerful score of music, all of them leave the watcher in a sort of muddled, dream-like constitution.

It Is Cathartic. Undoubtedly well-acted and quite magnificently photographed, the talent and technical side of the production is nothing to complain about. The story and execution itself is what will bring many into confusion, frustration, and possibly boredom. This is not something for everyone, though it is about everyone. It’s not a straight-forward narrative, but a satirical metaphor, an allegory of sorts, reflecting our society and socioeconomic mindset in a small, contained environment.  Its story is similar to that of Snowpiercer [2013], though not presented in such a (literal) straightforward way. Its characters act as if they came from Synecdoche, New York [2008], seemingly unaware of the absurdity surrounding them as their lives and their reasons for existing spin out of control. 

It Is Cautionary. A dark-humored, dystopian kind of thinker of a film, High-Rise brings the best of filmmaking and does what it can to execute a challenging story and premise. I believe it ultimately succeeds, whether or not the viewer will agree comes down to whether or not it was understood or appreciated for what it is supposed to be. Our social norms, or class system, how we want to live and how we’re taught to live, what we think we need and what we really need, what really matters, what we deserve…it’s all housed within the high-rise.

Filled with frantic energy and thought-provoking ideas, High-Rise is bizarre, beautiful, brutal, boisterous, and a bit too long.