Film Review: High-Rise


Ben Wheatley’s film High-Rise has a promising start, but the overall execution is left wanting.

Dr Robert Laing moves into a flat in a high-rise tower block. At first the building seems to have everything for a busy professional, but life begins to run out of control for the many residents…

High-Rise is broadly about society, class and humanity. However, later in the film the message Wheatley is trying to push through gets jumbled. Anarchy reigns, but not in a manner which says anything in particular. High-Rise would have been a more satisfying film if director Ben Wheatley had stuck to one vein and explored that.

The film’s setting is appealing, with unmistakable 1970s dystopia look. The claustrophobia of the location is successful function as things begin to crumble. Chaos is depicted effectively, although it would have been more enthralling if this was further punctuated. As it stands, the film builds to a type of climax which is without carthasis.

Protagonist Robert Laing, played by Tom Hiddleston, is an interesting character to begin with. There is a hook at first as it is unclear which direction Laing will take. As the film progresses however, this becomes less interesting, as High-Rise simply suggests that he is as affected by the situation as everyone else in the building.

Class in the film is depicted in very explicit terms. This is often a source of humour. The film is most successful when it employs comedy in fact. However High-Rise paints in broad strokes, not really having much to say on the subject.

The film’s final sequence makes further political statement. If there had been a coherent message throughout High-Rise, this certainly would have been in-keeping with the tone. However, it feels like it has been tacked on.

It is a shame that High-Rise does not live up to its initial strong beginning. There are good ideas in the film, but they are buried beneath a lacklustre execution.

High-Rise is being screened at the London Film Festival in October 2015.