Film #239: High-Rise (2015)

highrisedirector: Ben Wheatley
language: English and a bit of French
length: 119 minutes
watched on: 27 October 2016

High-Rise was only out in Japan on limited release, so a group of us wanting to see it travelled down to Yokohama to a tiny indie cinema which felt like walking back into the 60s. I didn’t really know what the plot would be before going in, preferring to be surprised, basically.

The movie is set in a tower block in probably-London in a heavily stylized version of the 1970s, with bright, blocky colours and characters smoking in every scene. Tom Hiddleston moves in, and tries and fails to integrate with the different social strata in the block. Basically, the upper floors are the upper class, wining and dining and making fun of the lower floors, who can’t afford basic necessities. Perhaps a microcosm of mainstream society.

Hiddleston kind of remains an outsider for most of the movie, and his story isn’t as interesting as the other characters’, in the end, especially the guy with the moustache in the picture above, who seems to represent socialist uprising, or the Architect living in the lavish penthouse, with an actual garden and horseriding wife on the roof.

About halfway through the movie there’s a very sudden and almost unprecedented descent into chaos and madness, when the upper floors become vulgarly orgiastic and the lower floors become violent and the whole of the tower block’s society starts to decay. Pretty much every character becomes detestable for one reason or another. I just didn’t see why they couldn’t just, like, leave. Life is going on outside the block as normal, after all, and we do get a chance to see a couple of the characters outside work, but a large part of life in the tower block is self-contained – the supermarket, gym and so on are all there.

Other than that, it was often incomprehensible, and I wasn’t sure what the movie was trying to say. Is it supposed to be a critique of society, or a warning? Should it even be given the luxury of consideration? I enjoyed many parts of it, but I didn’t feel like the whole thing meshed together well. At the same time, I feel like it might warrant a second viewing in the future to catch parts that I didn’t get the first time around.

Have you seen this? What did you think?

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One Response to Film #239: High-Rise (2015)

  1. Pingback: Film #275: A Single Man (2009) | reuoq

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