Comfort, Class, and Society Crumble in the Brilliant ‘High-Rise’

VANAPHASE™ the Vanadium powerhouse!


With all the comforts and amenities of modern life, it would seem as if we’re heading closer and closer to a world of leisure and pleasure. With smart phones, the wealth of the world’s knowledge is at our fingertips and instantly available for whatever question may pop into our head. But what if all of these luxuries are just a means to reinforce preexisting class structure? What if all these amenities begin to fail? Those are the questions that arise when watching Ben Wheatley’s High-Rise, the British filmmaker’s adaptation of the novel by J.G. Ballard. This is a film that toes the line between futuristic and retro in its examination of the social structure as defined by class and luxury. High-Rise is a rousing social commentary unlike any other to grace the screen this year, and one likely to be very divisive among viewers.

Dr. Robert Laing (Tom Hiddleston) has just moved into the concrete palace of the high-rise. The building, which was constructed by Anthony Royal (Jeremy Irons), is a monument to modern living, with all the amenities one could imagine located within the walls of the concrete cathedral to modernism. Living just above Laing is Charlotte (Sienna Miller), a single mother with a habit of excessive indulgence. A few floors below is the married couple of Richard (Luke Evans) and Helen Wilder (Elizabeth Moss), though Richard seems to always have his eyes placed upon women who are not his pregnant wife. Those living on the upper floors of the high-rise have preferential social status and get to enjoy the amenities more freely than the residents of the lower floors. Soon, though, the simple luxuries fail to work properly, followed by the necessities of modern living. At first, these only affect the lower floors but it’s not long before the whole high-rise is plagued with problems. As the features of the building break down so, too, does the social structure, as social status takes a backseat to survival and hedonistic pleasures. What was once a monument to modernism becomes a mausoleum for all of its failings.

High-Rise would make one hell of a double feature with Snowpiercer, effectively operating as an unofficial prequel. Unlike Snowpiercer, High-Rise doesn’t really contain a conventional narrative with heroes and villains in its examination of class structure. Almost from the first scenes, High-Rise is about a secluded society in a slow decline. What starts as simple problems quickly elevate into a full blown colony collapse. In this world, everything builds on a foundation of class and when that’s undermined in even the slightest way, it signals the fall for this house of cards.

The script by Amy Jump shies away from convention in more ways than one. For instance, we have little understanding about what Hiddleston’s Dr. Laing wants, because this isn’t a movie about a character achieving his goals, instead it’s about his front row seat for the destruction of this ecosystem. More often than not, the characters of High-Rise are guided by selfishness. It’s only after the collapse that these people shed their proper facades and wholly embrace their hedonism. Meanwhile, Wheatley’s stellar direction emphasizes all the story beats with strong visuals. Among the most powerful of the images in High-Rise is on the rooftop of the massive structure, its top a luscious green preservation yet everything surrounding it is drab and gray concrete. As if pushing away any aspect of nature is a necessity to the modern world and the retention of plant life is an opulent luxury for those on the top.

As he’s proven time and time again, Tom Hiddleston is just a force on the screen. He’s cool and suave here, with a certain element that’s detached from the structure of the world he inhabits. If any actor is going to be your guide through a world as brazenly bizarre as the one of High-Rise, there’s no better person to show the way than Hiddleston. Of course, Hiddleston isn’t alone in excelling in High-Rise. Jeremy Irons is given a meaty role as the architect of the demented structure, and the veteran actor blends the character’s hubris and optimism into a remarkably deep character. Sienna Miller and Elizabeth Moss are each excellent as two very different types of women, each confined by the rigid class structure. Most surprising is Luke Evans as Richard Wilder. Whether through voodoo or black magic, Evans basically morphs into the ‘70s era Oliver Reed with a performance that is masculine and wounded, boisterous and intimidating. As Evans was on the screen, my thoughts kept going, “My god, he’s resurrected Oliver Reed!”

From its production design by Mark Tildesley to the cinematography by Laurie Rose, High-Rise has a wonderful look. Taking place in no specific time, High-Rise still has a look that could be categorized as retro with a feel that is somewhat futuristic. By avoiding making High-Rise conform to any particular time and place it keeps the film feeling strikingly relevant throughout its two-hour runtime. Even when the film gets remarkably ugly in its content with some dark aspects of sex and violence, there’s still amazing images of design and shot composition to stare in awe at.

As he’s done with features like Sightseers and A Field in England, Ben Wheatley once again proves that he is a rising talent in the world of cinema, one capable of grappling with large and complex themes and beautiful artistry even when the content is ugly. High-Rise is a film that reflects modern society and takes us to places that we might not be comfortable exploring. Of course, there are going to be many who claim that the film will have been overrated because it didn’t meet their expectations, and that’s perfectly fine. High-Rise isn’t a movie that’s for everybody. For those willing to follow Wheatley down the concrete corridors of High-Rise will find a film without peers, one about the ugly side of humanity and society. The decline of Western civilization never looked so damn good.

Leave a Reply

Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
Wolfman's Got Nards
Cinepocalypse 2018 Review: ‘Wolfman’s Got Nards’

The harsh reality of the movie business is that films often...

The Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons Learned From a Mystical Man
Cinepocalypse 2018 Review: ‘The Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons Learned From a Mystical Man’

We’ve all heard the stories in one form or another. Bill...

Amazon Studios Greenlights Invincible from The Walking Dead Creator Robert Kirkman

Amazon Studios greenlights Invincible, from The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman,...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
LGBTQ Video Game Archives
Temple Professor Helps Launch First Exhibit of LGBTQ Video Game Archives

Temple University’s Dr. Adrienne Shaw is serving as a curator in her role...

Talking Tom Jetski2
Take a Virtual Beach Break with Talking Tom Jetski 2

Outfit7 celebrates 8 billion downloads of its mobile games with the...

PowerA Xbox One
Up Your Game with New Enhanced PowerA Xbox One Controllers

Up your game and get ready for the upcoming Xbox Exclusive...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
Batman / The Maxx: Arkham Dreams
Sam Kieth Makes Long-Awaited Return to The Outback in Batman / The Maxx: Arkham Dreams

SAN DIEGO, CA and BURBANK, CA (June 21, 2018) – Batman...

Wrestling Writer Legends Bill Apter & Gary Morgenstein Announce, ‘The Last Wrestler’

To names that are synonymous with professional wrestling journalism and well...

thousand year beach
The Thousand Year Beach – Viz Media Debuts Acclaimed Sci-Fi Novel

“The Thousand Year Beach presents an idyllic virtual world, still running...

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
Solo Lightweight Backpacks
Solo Lightweight Backpacks for the Late Summer Heat

Beat the heat with the new line of Solo lightweight backpacks: Peak,...

Out Of Space on Your Xbox One? Fantom Drives Has Your Back

Fantom Drives will ensure you have enough space on your Xbox...

New Toast Covers
A Toast to New Toast Covers, Now Covering More Than Tech

Raise your glasses for a toast to New Toast Covers for the...

Arena Football Automotives MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
Jeanie Buss & MGM TV Tags AXS TV to Broadcast WOW-Women of Wrestling Events

Jeanie Buss and MGM Television Tags AXS TV to Broadcast WOW-Women...

Kevin Belington Faces Martin Nguyen for the ONE FC Interim Bantamweight Title

From ONE FC – 07 June 2018 – Manila, Philippines: The...

Showtime to Air ‘Bipolar Rock ‘N’ Roller’ Mauro Ranallo Doc on May 25th

From Bellator MMA and Showtime – New York – April 30,...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
Iron Fist Racist
Is Marvel Iron Fist Racist? Part 2- Yeah…

After the casting controversy, two shows, and a guest appearance in Marvel...

Cultural Junkdrawer – Season’s end: The Flash season 4


Adult Continuity Issue #13 – Avengers XXX – A porn parody

I review AvengersXXX and make masturbation jokes. Be smart with your Fapdollar(tm);...

Event News Event Reviews
Mr. Mercedes Immersive Experience
AT&T Audience Network Bringing Mr. Mercedes Immersive Experience to SDCC

AT&T AUDIENCE Network to Bring ‘Mr. Mercedes Immersive Experience’ and Show...

Shout! Factory Anime Expo 2018
Shout! Factory Anime Expo 2018 Lineup Has Big Brands and Big Names

Shout! Factory Anime Expo 2018 lineup includes interactive fan activities, exciting...

Flavors of Youth
Netflix Premiering New Original Anime Flavors of Youth at AX2018

Netflix will host the world premiere screening of their new anime...

Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Gaming Uncensored: Year in Review 2016

A look back at the year in gaming. Related

Gaming Uncensored Roundtable: December 2016

December’s roundtable discusses story in games with Chad, Josh, and Spencer....

Gaming Uncensored: Podcast #349

Jamie reflects on some of his time with the HTC Vive....

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
Crisis on Earth-X Soundtrack
Blake Neely Behind-the-Scenes Recording of Crisis on Earth-X Soundtrack

Check out this exclusive Behind-The-Scenes video with Blake Neely as he...

Rising Country Music Artist Kaylin Roberson Talks About her work with St. Jude

Kaylin Roberson is a singer, songwriter and pianist from Raleigh, North...

MTV Unveils Performers for ‘TRL Live’ on October 3rd at 3 p.m. E.T.

NEW YORK, NY (September 26, 2017) – MTV today announced that...

%d bloggers like this: