High Rise

Based on J. G. Ballard novel of the same name, High-Rise, observes life for the residents of a high tower run out of control.

Newport Beach Film Festival – 2016
Amy Jump
Director: Ben Wheatley
Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Elisabeth Moss

High Rise, I think, is an allegory about class warfare. It’s a very strange movie, and I’ll describe it as best as I can. Dr. Robert Liang (Tom Hiddleston) is a upper-middle class doctor that moves into a futuristic high rise building. The building is an essentially a self-contained country. The rich and affluent live on the higher floors while the poor live on the lower floors. Living on the penthouse level is the architect of the building, Royal (Jeremy Irons), who designed the entire project.

The beginning of the movie, everyone starts moving into their individual apartments. The high rise has its own market, workout room and every amenity imaginable. But quickly things start to fall apart. Liang first attends a party by the lower middle-class residents. Not to be outdone, the rich decide to throw an even better party.

As the movie progresses, documenting a three-month period of time, the society within the high-rise begins to deteriorate. Food becomes scarce, the electricity and water fail and garbage begins to pile up. The upper-class bunker into their floor and the lower class wonder why nothing is improving. Or at least, that’s what I think is happening.

I am absolutely baffled by this movie. Clearly the film is some kind of statement about class warfare, but I can’t really tell you what that statement is. It is based on a popular novel that I have not read, but I’m sure many people have. I should have to read a book to understand a movie.

The main problem a film has when it’s hard to follow. It gets boring fast. I start looking at the clock. I keep hoping this act is the last act. But the end doesn’t come, and I am forced to endure more torture.

The movie is littered with strange and odd images. Visually, the high-rise appears as a sleek modern building of today, but over time, the building deteriorates. Halls are littered with trash and the ungodly. Even food becomes moldy, and water becomes cloudy.

The strange thing is I hear laughter, and I see people who are enjoying this movie. I begin to wonder, am I just too stupid to enjoy this film? Then paranoia sets in, and I wonder if the movie is making fun of me.

I love Tom Hiddleston, and I am a fan of Jeremy Irons. They are good actors and light up the screen. It was probably the only thing that helped me get to the finish line that is the ending of this movie.

I’ll just come out and say it. I didn’t get this movie, and if there was a point or commentary about life and class warfare, it was lost.

4 out of 10 stars

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