Starring Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans, Elisabeth Moss, James Purefoy
Tom Hiddleston is having a bad year, as he continues to venture farther away from the comic book universe and into the independent cinema world. It started with his disastrous turn as Hank Williams in I Saw the Light. Now High Rise proves another obscure failure on his resume. Hiddletson isn’t alone, Irons has seen two failures this year and Sienna Miller is still waiting for the role that will make audiences take her seriously. High Rise finds itself in Lynch, Cronenberg or Kubrick territory as much of the film just offers bizarre imagery without any explanation or meaning. Violence, gore, nudity and lots of smoking, suffocate the already burdensome plot to a point of exhaustion for the viewer.
Dr. Laing (Hiddletson) is the newest resident in the large city high rise building attracting a variety of inhabitants. The wealthy live above the 15th floor, with the renowned architect on the very top. The lower class reside in the lower levels and both classes of people co-mingle in the parking lot and on the 15th floor supermarket. “The architect of my own accident”, Royal (Irons), the buildings designer says. He invites the curious new doctor of physiology to his lofty penthouse, they spark a sort of friendship and understanding. Laing becomes to understand the nature of the society that has been inadvertently created in this living establishment, and he watches almost painlessly as they begin to tear everything apart.
High Rise isn’t a film you watch as much as one you tolerate, or endure if you are gluten for punishment.
High Rise, based on a J.G. Ballard novel (the same guy who wrote Crash, the 1996 Cronenberg film about people having sex before cars crashed) has a perfunctory appetite for gore. More than once, we see Dr. Laing pull the skin off a decapitated human head, commenting on how easily the flesh peels away from the skull. The viewer is spared nothing before the saw begins cutting into the bone. What begins as a dark comedy, or whatever the level below a dark comedy is, quickly turns into a dystopian society of the worst characters to appear together in a single film. The acting is thrust into the background as the actors become nothing more than visual tools.
Any quiet moment in the film is innately followed by some jarring noise. The score rarely complements the material, rather exists only to further challenge the viewer’s senses. High Rise isn’t a film you watch as much as one you tolerate, if you are assigned to cover a film like this, or endure if you are gluten for punishment. I would bet your average viewer walks out of the theater in under 45 minutes. Once the film leaps off the deep end (seemingly signified by the films first death), it doesn’t offer the viewer much of a reason to stay, as the script moves so far away from where it began, it becomes completely unrecognizable and downright horrendous.
A dreadful experience.