High-Rise film review: Social collapse has never looked so good

Matt Adcock reviews High-Rise (15), starring Tom Hiddleston
Tom Hiddleston in High-RiseTom Hiddleston in High-Rise
Tom Hiddleston in High-Rise

The future isn’t what it used to be. Thanks to Ben ‘Kill List’ Wheatley we have High-Rise – the big screen version of JG Ballard’s ‘70s freak out novel that charts the complete breakdown of a community who live in a high-tech tower block.

Meet architect Anthony Royal (Jeremy Irons). Royal lives in the penthouse of the utopian living block he designed where the floor structure is ‘the higher you live the richer / better’. Things get shaken up when Dr Robert Laing (Tom ‘Thor’ Hiddleston) moves into an apartment on one of the upper middle floors but is happy to befriend those both above and below him. Laing finds a society of divided loyalties, class injustices and dangerously fragmented tribes. With tangible tension and unhinged madness in the air, there will certainly be ultra-violence before the credits roll.

The denizens of the High-Rise are a fantastical bunch including sexy single mum Charlotte Melville (Sienna Miller), sinister oddball Nathan Steele (Reece Shearsmith), dangerous ‘Begbie-alike’ Richard Wilder (Luke Evans) and his good natured pregnant wife Helen (Elisabeth Moss).

High-Rise boasts jaw-dropping cinematography. Everything reeks of a sinister future chic as only could have been imagined in the ‘70s; it’s similar to that of A Clockwork Orange. The sprawling car park at the foot of the tower is filled with Triumph Stags, the inner décor is avant-garde to the max and the fashions include icy cool business wear and funky print dresses.

As the tribal differences turn from insanity to violence, there is an escalation of frenzied scheming which the plot can’t quite keep up with. When a full-bloodied class war breaks out between the floors, all bets are off as to who will survive.

Hiddleston is incredible in the lead role – fully embracing the weird and wonderful casual savagery with a restrained cool that can’t hurt his possible audition to be a future Bond. Wheatley is on top directorial form, obviously relishing having a bigger budget to play with, combining the feel of Ballard’s novel with his own freakish imagination.

High-Rise is a fabulous dystopian psychological breakdown writ large on screen. It won’t be for everyone - those of a squeamish nature should certainly not apply - but for anyone up for a fully wild adventure, this is highly recommended viewing.

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