High Rise Movie Review
Steven Spielberg’s 1987 film Empire of the Sun is one of my all time favorite films. It starred a then unknown Christian Bale as a young lad who was separated from his parents during the evacuation of Shanghai in the early days of World War II. His father was a wealthy diplomat and Jim (Bale) was a bit of a spoiled brat. As the film progresses, Jim grows from being a little brat to being a resourceful young man and weary of a world tearing itself apart. JG Ballard (who died in 2009) wrote the book that the film was based on and it will always be one of my favorites. I have not read his novel High Rise but if this film is any indication of what awaits us, I think it is fair to say, we can skip it. Re-read and re-watch Empire of the Sun. How a man can write with such beauty with Empire of the Sun and then pen such a horrendous story about tenants of a high rise that turn violent when the power goes out, is beyond me.
This has opened in select cities and On Demand and to call it a major disappointment is an understatement. The film, set in the 1970’s, stars Tom Hiddleston playing Dr. Laing, a newcomer to the brand new high-rise building. Supposedly this new building is state of the art and the architect, Royal (Jeremy Irons) lives in the penthouse suite and still is designing new additions and other buildings just like this one. He is a detestable chap as are most of the characters in this film. When the power fails, the tenants begin to resort to their basic animal instincts. Fights ensue, assaults, rapes and all sorts of atrocities happen. Why the police and the power company was not called immediately is anybody’s guess. One officer of the law shows up but is quickly turned away and they don’t even explain that reasoning, either.
I take no pleasure in panning a film. Even the worst films require a lot of effort and endless hours of work. It is somebody’s baby, so to speak. But when average, hard working people are asked to fork over their hard earned dollars to watch a film, we expect something decent, at the very least. High-Rise is a nice looking film with impressive production values in creating the building, itself. It features a terrific score by Clint Mansell but High-Rise is a nasty, mean spirited film filled with character after character that is as unlikable as the previous one. The story is supposed to be an allegory for how humans react to the bottoming out of society set in this building, but since I connected with no one, the story is meaningless. There is an underlying theme about class warfare but none of this is really explored at all. The basic theme is rich people suck and when the chips are down they are just like anyone else. What a news flash that is. Only Hiddleston manages to escape this film with his reputation in tact, for the most part. The rest of the cast is squandered in a script by Amy Jump that does not make much sense and director Ben Wheatley lets the film’s pacing linger in just about every scene. This is one slow moving film, let me tell you.
There are scenes after scene of endless brutality towards women, animals and just about anybody who is unfortunate enough to be caught out of their apartments. Wheatley seems to revel in scenes filled with most debauchery, putrid lasciviousness and when characters speak they say some of the most vile and disgusting things to one another. High-Rise debases just about everyone in it. These are not likable characters at all. They are a depraved lot and no one in their right mind would spend any amount of time with any of them. I wondered as to who the target audience is for this film. It is obviously NOT for kids but what adult would want to watch two hours of people brutalizing others? High-Rise is a horrendously bad film. Sadistic, misogynistic, slow and uninteresting in just about every way, High-Rise is so far the worst film of 2016. Do not waste your time or your money. I am sorry I did.
High-Rise- * out of five
High-Rise- Rated R for language, nudity, strong sexual content, wanton savagery
High-Rise- Run Time is 118 minutes
If you still insist on seeing this film it is available On Demand, but I warn you this is not for the squeamish and MOST DEFINITELY NOT FOR CHILDREN or even young adults.