Director: Ben Wheatley
I’d been looking forward to watching High-Rise and I was certainly not disappointed. Ben Wheatley can never be described as mainstream despite having two episodes of Doctor Who on his director’s CV. He hasn’t always hit the mark for me, Kill List as an example of a miss. Then you have Sightseers, a delightful black comedy. With High-Rise he registers another hit with this viewer.
Based on JG Ballard’s 1975 Science fiction novel of the same name the story centres on Doctor Robert Laing (Hiddleston). After his sister’s death he moves into a luxurious high-rise tower. These towers provide everything you could ever need from schools to shopping markets, restaurants and swimming pools. Designed so you never have to leave for the real world at any time other than to go to work. It wont come as a surprise when I tell you I’ve not read the book. I’m not a “bookie”. When it comes to films based on books it gives you more of a chance of enjoyment if it doesn’t have to live up to a book. This is also why remakes rarely live up to their originals.
Within the structure of the tower there is something of a hierarchy, upper class living on the highest floors, professionals below them and what would pass for the working classes of today in the lower apartments. As the film goes on the battle between the classes escalates, in particular the dispersal of power and amenities in their respective living areas becomes almost like currency. This culminates in a battle to see who can throw the best party!
At the very top of the tower lives Anthony Royal (Irons), the building’s designer, along with his wife Ann Royal (Hawes). Their allegiances lie with the upper classes and they are keen to recruit Laing into their circle, at first. It’s quite hard to explain what Laing’s actual story is but as the film moves along its clear that he’s going to have to make a choice as to where his loyalties lie.
Move on to page two for my thoughts.