High-Rise (2015)

StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty Star

Director: Ben Wheatley
Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans


In the near future, an unfinished high-rise development is the setting for growing disgruntlement between the wealthy upper floors and the increasingly under-resourced tenants down below. Into this febrile social microcosm comes a neurologist devoid of personal attachments who becomes an observant survivor.

The Review

A brave, good-looking, but grandiosely excessive satire. It seems strange at this remove to continue to locate J. G. Ballard's dystopian 1975 novel in the seventies, but then there are precedents, one supposes, for example Delicatessen. However, where that film had a stylistic and narrative homogeneity to it as well as a sense of humour, Wheatley's harks back unwittingly to the worst excesses of 1970s art-house cinema on either side of the Channel: didactic, politicised and incoherent. We all get long before the Zardoz finish that this building is a loaded metaphor for society, with its dictator, his brutal minions, its no less brutal intellectual agitators and its watchful consumers. With Wilder's Brutus figure despatched, Ides of March-like, by the cult's priestesses, Laing's Octavian is ready to step into the void, and so on. The concluding Thatcher soundbite from the 1980s is just another nail in this pretentious coffin.