Review: High-Rise

It is Society Metaphor: The Movie!

Doctor Robert Laing is a brain surgeon who moves into a brand new set of advanced high-rise buildings. Little does he know that the people living in his particular building are about to go through social upheaval and class wars similar to the End of Days.

Did a horny fifteen year old anarchist write this?

High-Rise was originally a film I sorely missed seeing last year, in fact I almost forced myself to see it in December so it would be added to 2016’s list… Honestly I couldn’t care less where it goes now; this film was absolute trite.
I have a particular bone to pick with Paul Haggis’ 2004 film (and Academy Best Picture winner) Crash for its blatant and sledgehammer-subtle social commentary on racism. But I don’t know what is worse, a contemporary social commentary with ridiculously caricature humans in a realistic setting, or a surrealist take on social commentary with absolutely no grace, intellect, wit or tension.
I guess I may have to reconsider my stance on Crash after all.

Tom Hiddleston (who I used to think cherry-picked good roles for himself) is Robert Laing, who we initially see basking in garbage, eating spit-roasted dog on an apartment balcony. Immediately we are thrown back months before and see him butt-naked on a spotless, pristine balcony being ogled at by the hot woman living above him (clearly Loki is trying to size up with Thor). The film quickly establishes that all is not quite as it seems; continuous hints at adultery from every man with a pulse, Jeremy Irons’ playing the building’s architect, living in a heavenly garden penthouse, who is subtly named Royal (I am serious) while the working classes are at the bottom floors and apparently being ignored.

This film is so transparent in what it is hammering home about society that the entire point of watching it is rendered moot. The opening act is tedious because the characters are literally vehicles for social views and groups, they aren’t relatable people, they aren’t characters, they are all metaphorical stand-ins. They have nothing to do except setup a finale we already know (and for the slow-minded in the audience, there was the dog-eating Hiddleston flash-forward at the start!)
Without any humanity representing this deeply human issue, when everything kicks off and this building becomes a literal Hell on Earth with humans descending to near-primitive states (oooooooh, how MEANINGFUL, how UNIQUE) it just happens.

I think what caused it was a man at a pool party was so insulted when another man brought a horde of children to play in the pool that he killed himself. Seriously.

I didn’t even grasp the tone this movie was going for. It wasn’t especially funny, to suggest a black comedy despite its 1960s trappings and swinging soundtrack, it wasn’t tense or horrific or overly gory like a horror despite its rampant sex scenes. I can only assume it was trying to be like A Clockwork Orange, or something similar. However Kubrick had the guile to use characters sparingly, to set up twisted people and build tension in a bid to tell a morbid and controversial social commentary. He also made a good film.

I can only say it was shot reasonably well and the 60s styling and aesthetics are on-point. Plus Luke Evans playing a man called – sorry, playing the rebellious lower class seeking revolution – Wilder was good too.
I am just very disappointed; from the trailer I had high hopes, this is the sort of film I usually like, but this is when pretentious motivations get in the way of good storytelling.

High-Rise is stuck in the trash chute with the nappies,  it is a brazen try-hard that forgot to have any connection with its audience.


Additional marshmallows: They even, even had a man randomly appear “as a reporter” (as in, he got a camera) only to have him bound and gagged when the upper class took total control. Wow, it is so subtle I can see outside from the wrecking ball that just plowed through my wall…

Additional, additional marshmallows: 1.5 rating? Mostly for the shots seen in the trailer, this is the definition of a “trailer movie” that could have been more effective as a music video.


One Comment Add yours

  1. wotsbooks says:

    So that’s a ‘not like’ then. Hmm……I have to kind of agree. I thought there were good parts to it but it was soooo rammed down our throats that it was almost like watching an episode of sesame Street, albeit one where snuffleufergus gets cooked and eaten… muh

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