Out Of Order – ★★★
Ben Wheatley certainly doesn’t do things by half measures, so with his take on JG Ballard’s High Rise we get a smoke filled, flared trousered look at what seventies Britain might have devolved into if rich people actually lived in tower blocks. The soft core 70’s porn stylings of dodgy mustaches and bouffant hair slowly gives way to the law of the jungle and survival of the smartest.
Dr. Laing – played by Tom Hiddleston – is our guide into the block of flats. He being a doctor is middle-class and manages to straddle both the lower class full of people with honest jobs and lots of children, and the hoi polloi of the upper floors with their fancy animals and even fancier parties. Laing even manages to meet the architect Anthony Royal, brought to life by Jeremy Irons.
The failing for me comes in that by being so true to its time it seems incredibly dated which undermines the message at the core. We get the analogy very early on and then spend the next hour and forty minutes being stabbed in the eye with it. We skip precise moments in the downfall and are left with the remnants. This jarring cutting back and forth interspersed with fantasies and daydreams leave you shifting uneasily in your seat, as they should.
There is nothing new in High-Rise, you will not emerge bleary eyed from the cinema suddenly realising that Animal Farm was not a book about farm animals and if you do you really should be spending less time in the cinema and a bit more time in the library. So it all rests on the look of the piece and like most pretty things it catches the eye for a while but contains little below the surface. Well the basement is usually only one floor I suppose.
High-Rise opens Friday 18th of March