High Rise

This is the kind of movie you can like in concept, even if the execution comes quite a bit short of ideal. As my friend who saw it said: “It’s very flawed, and not very good, but I enjoyed every minute of it.”

This is social criticism sci-fi from a novel by JG Ballard, but don’t let that get your hopes up. Tom Hiddleston [Loki from the Thor movies] plays a guy who moves into a high-tech high rise. That’s pretty much the setup. The building is set up as a metaphor for social strata, with the rich people on the uppers floors, middle class in the middle, and poor people on the bottom. The building has a lot of power failures and runs out of water, from which the poor suffer more than the upper floors. In the penthouse, the Architect, played by Jeremy Irons, lives.

Hiddleston meets this person, that person, becomes involved with Sienna Miller as an upstairs resident, befriends lower class resident played by Luke Evans, meets the architect, vignette here, vignette there, I guess they’re somehow connected, nothing really takes form, interest slowly hisses out like a deflating balloon. And then it hits the top, and then goes over the top, and then goes way over the top, and then it just keeps on going.

Yet somehow, it still remains watchable and fun, although it goes so wild that what you’re going to get out of it starts diminishing precipitously… although one of the main charms of the film is that it doesn’t seem to give a fuck. It is what it is and you’ll watch it and you’ll like it, or you can piss off.

One triumph of the film is that it maintains the integrity of the 1975 time period of the novel, while also making it a contemporary film, by merely having all of the costumes and interiors be in 70s styles. This comes off as though we’re in a futuristic world in which 70s styles have come back into vogue, and helps the film succeed in being sort of outside of time [and the characters seem even more bourgeois and idle by being so into image], so I thought that was a brilliant solution that pays off wonderfully.

If you like good old social criticism sci-fi, and are willing to accept a lot of stuff that is interesting but not really coming into any focus, I’d say go for it. If you need answers and for things to make sense, stay away.

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One thought on “High Rise

  1. It kinda sounds like “Snowpiercer” based on this description, I’ll check it out. JG Ballard wrote the novel that Cronenberg’s Crash is based on, so I’m particularly curious.

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