High Rise is directed by Ben Wheatley and stars the likes of Tom Hiddleston, Luke Evans, Sienna Miller, Jeremy Irons, Keeley Hawes, Elizabeth Moss, and more as occupants of a tall apartment block built to contain a community in the near future. It is based on the famous JG Ballard novel that many said could never be put to film. But the question is, when put to film, did it succeed? Well, in a very frantic, chaotic and entirely insane way, it did. Here's my take on High Rise.
So the film basically starts off by following newcomer Arthur Laing (Hiddleston) as he begins his life in the high rise. It also starts out as a relatively normal film. It has it's mysterious elements and hypnotic quirks, but it seems to be just a solidly great thriller that plays very well with your perception of the plot and it's twists. However, this movies becomes something that is absolutely fascinating. I hadn't read the novel. I didn't know much about it beyond the basic plot. But, I would never have realised how bat shit crazy the story is. It's literally lunacy put on screen. And it's lunacy done extremely well. You believe that all the characters in the film are actually mentally insane. They are intensely and convincingly fucked up. Having said that, there were moments in this film that just felt like too much. I completely understand why they did these things, but I just felt like it was too surreal to wrap your head around at times. Honestly, I saw this film 3 days ago, and I've spent alot of time trying to wrap my head around it. I couldn't write this review until I did.
In a way, this film is most appealing in the areas of directing and cinematography. The cinematography is beautiful, with frames looking like 70s art gallery photographs and tons of unique and interesting camera angles. But the directing is where this movie really shines, and oh boy, does it shine brightly. There are moments of directing here that are genius. I'm talking almost Stanley Kubrick genius. Ben Wheatley crafts scenes here that are truly masterful, and if I didn't have the flaws that I had with the film, this alone would make it a masterpiece. But, I did have flaws, and there were sections of this film that had me confused, and all the excellent cinematography and artistic direction in the world couldn't help me work them out.
The performances here are phenomenal. Hiddleston gives us a great lead to explore, but as the film progresses, weight eases of his shoulders a little bit and we get to see some of the other actors and their characters shine. Most notably for me is Luke Evans, who gives an energetic and fiercely intimidating performance as Richard Wilder, a sex and drug crazed father of two who begins to become an aspiring filmmaker as his mind spirals down the rabbit hole. At the centre of the film, Wilder and Laing are probably the two characters who's demise we get to see the most of, which is fantastic, as they are two of the most interesting characters in the film, and it was Wilder's character arc that truly blew me away. The way in which we get to follow him is violently claustrophobic and personal, and the almost nuanced approach from Evans is extremely admirable.
At it's core, when all the madness is stripped and you can see this film for what it truly is, the movie is about the idea that society will one day collapse. I'm not sure if I agree entirely with every decision this movie made to give that idea to it's audience, but I can say that the idea definitely comes through, boldly and fearlessly. And this surprisingly actually made the cinematic experience very intense and intriguing, which is why part of me still thinks this film is a potential masterpiece. There were moments that pointed that way for sure, but there were also moments of sheer confusion that hurt my brain. It's absurd. No seriously, it's absolutely fucking absurd. But, I partly love it. The grading that I want to give this film keeps going all over the place. At one point I was even considering this to be an A+ film, but when I boil it down, I just cant, as there are aspects of the film that I just haven't worked out yet. I will, however, suggest this to anyone who's very interested in film, or purely just wants a fascinating cinematic experience. It will transport you and make you jump through a series of different emotions and feelings, and this is a film that is possibly quite ahead of it's time, could become iconic in the future, and one I'm definitely going to re-watch numerous times.
So what did you think of High Rise? Have you seen it? Did it confuse you like it did me? Make sure to let me know in the comments, and if you enjoyed this review, make sure to come back for more like it in the future or go to http://moviepilot.com/garwoodreviews for previous reviews.