Adapted by J.G Ballard’s book of the same title, High-Rise is simply bizarre. But let’s wind back a bit and try to explain and justify it.
The year is 1975 and moving into a promising new high-rise community is Tom Hiddleston’s character Dr. Robert Laing. Mellow and precise, Laing slowly settles into the accommodation structure and finds literally everything he needs is within the four corners; from everything to a shopping market to luxury gardens. Shortly he becomes acquainted with other residents including the architecture of the structure, Royal – played by Jeremy Irons. Slightly paraphrasing – he explains that ‘everyone has a place’ and that there is a clear hierarchy within the building. The higher you are on floor levels, the better you are as such.
This is the point that the film erupts and goes slightly bonkers. Over the next two hours we witness the destruction of society within the building – apocalyptic madness and complete dystopia. But that is not all! Morals, ethics and systems turn into barbarianism and we watch the seemingly normal throw up on itself. Yet, life inside the building and outside continues ‘normally’…
The interior set is wonderfully authentic as we visually see it decay into weirdness. There is a sequence played masterfully to ABBA’s S.O.S that sticks with you for a while too. Plus Hiddleston has a naked scene. There is almost something for everyone – unless you do not like films that can be confusing.
Ultimately, it is a storyline of rich vs. poor – and artfully gets across Ballard’s vision of the world’s social dilemma. But with added sophistication and bizarre performances from Hiddleston, Luke Evans and Sienna Miller, it remains artful regardless of the bloody weird narrative.