High Rise

An adaptation of a J G Ballard novel of the same name, written in 1975 and set at about the same time, this story concerns the residents of a forward-looking tower block development.

The pre-credits sequence introduces us to Robert Laing (Tom Hiddleston) whose voice-over narration of his diary-entries displays his detached manner, referring to himself in the third person as being calmly satisfied with his life, despite living in an apartment that looks like it has been trashed and roasting the leg of a dog on his balcony. The inter-title flashes “3 months earlier” and we see Laing moving into his flat at a time when everything appears much more sedate.

What follows is an hour of calm, stylish setup, introducing us to the characters of the building who are loosely sorted from working class families at the bottom to upper class folk at the very top and who don’t intermingle too much. The building itself is also introduced to us and it is a striking, quite beautiful, brutalist block.

All of a sudden the block descends into rioting seemingly out of nowhere and then the film itself goes nowhere for an hour.

You’re left feeling that you’re watching a ridiculous mess, it is neither funny or disturbing, nor is there an allegory that I could decipher, it just attempts to shock you with scenes of violence and aggression.

1 on 5


Director: Ben Wheatley
Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans, Elisabeth Moss
UK Release: 18th March 2016


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