Warning: There will, most-likely, be spoilers so carry on if you’re willing to risk it.
With my handy little notepad in tow, I ventured into Ben Wheatley’s High-Rise. As the movie went on, I found myself growing more and more confused. It finally got to the stage where I didn’t want to leave the cinema because then I’d have to admit to my friends, “Uhh… I don’t get it?”
But luckily for me, they didn’t understand either.
High-Rise was originally a book by J.G. Ballard. After getting the free sample from Google Books, I can now appreciate the opening sequence as it is exactly like the book’s opening -and as a book lover, I appreciate this greatly. However, I fear this may be the only thing the movie got right.
Don’t get me wrong – Wheatley did an immense job at shooting this tale. The camera work is something I know my uni lecturers will talk about in years to come. The style of the movie suited the atmosphere, yada, yada, yada.
But what about the story? Because, in my opinion, this is the most important factor. Without a story, what exactly is there?
I, of course, had seen the trailer before buying my ticket. Maybe I was a bit (“a bit”, HAH) blinded by Tom Hiddleston’s stunning figure, but I assumed the plot was going to revolve around the war between floors in the high rise. The rich folks live at the top, and the poor folks live at the bottom. After reading various articles about the book and film, it seems to me that Wheatley tried to express this theme in the course of the film – yet, it failed to come across. To myself and my friends, it seemed like tensions were high then suddenly everything went to hell. There was a fast montage sequence where the community is seen to start falling apart but there was no obvious explanation for it. It was as if there were a few fall-outs and then, suddenly, everyone started eating their dogs. I didn’t quite understand the plot – not at all. As my boyfriend said, “It was as if the writer knew the ending they wanted so focused on that instead of giving it an obvious middle to the story.”
However, while reading Tom Hiddleston’s interview in Sight and Sound, it became apparent that this was the movie’s fault and not the book’s fault. Hiddleston spoke of one part in the book where his character, Dr Laing, is leaving for work. He doesn’t like the feel of his clean clothes, nor the smell of the fresh air, so he runs back to his room at changes back into his mud-stained armor. This, at least, answered one question I scribbled in my notebook:
WHY DID NO ONE LEAVE?!?
This question puzzled me the most. But now I assume it is because the characters have become dependent on the crazed living conditions…
… Right? I still don’t quite understand.
When studying a movie, I look at the plot, the characters and the message. However, when trying to find the message behind High-Rise, I can only think of, “When all hell breaks loose, humans only do three things: drink, smoke and have sex.” The only characters that didn’t drink, smoke and have sex were the children – so at least the movie has that in its favour. However, I found this portrayal of the human race just, simply, vulgar. Along with the opening sequence of Hiddleston tearing the face off of a skull, I can’t say the movie was easy to watch. As my boyfriend said, “It’s a particularly bleak look that offers no promise of salvation in any of the characters or situation.”
Hmm, maybe he should write the reviews instead of me?
Speaking of characters, I have to say I made the mistake of watching the first episode of The Night Manager before seeing this movie and it turns out the same character is in both. Tom Hiddleston plays the stunning gent rather well but it’s a shame that’s all he can do. His character Laing was as interesting as the colour he painted his walls – and that was nearly a shade of grey. Maybe I’ve not cocooned myself in enough Tom Hiddleston to realise his true potential – but I have to admit, I was bored of his antics by the credits.
Overall, I think this is Movie Marmite. You either love it or hate it, and sadly I don’t have a positive opinion. I found the plot pointless and the characters unbelievable. The best bit of the movie? Seeing Tom Hiddleston in the buff.
But, even then, the best bit was covered.
Thanks for reading – hope I didn’t offend! – Evee 🙂