I’ve now come to expect something special from writer/director Ben Wheatley with each new film. In a short period of time, he’s unleashed Down Terrace, Kill List, Sightseers, and A Field In England, all movies that I feel are terrific pieces of cinema, and have totally confirmed him as one of the premiere filmmakers within his age group. His latest, the gloriously surreal and exceedingly stylish futurist satire High-Rise, takes him into Grand Guginol territory with flashes of sexual intrigue while overall presenting a wildly maniacal vibe to the proceedings. Based on J.G. Ballard’s famous and much-loved novel (which I’ve not read), my guess is that this film will be a very, very different viewing experience for those familiar with the source material than from those with no preconceived expectations. Being that I never, ever compare movies to books (one of the single most pointless endeavors that anyone could possibly waste their time with), I can only report about what I’ve seen with my two eyes in terms of the movie. I loved every, single depraved, erotic, disgusting moment of it. This will be a repellent film for some. For others, it’ll be exactly the kind of decadent showmanship that you’re looking for. This is an intense film, in every sense of the phrase, forcing the viewer into a constant stream of excess, never relenting for a moment.
Tom Hiddleston finally has a juicy role to call his own, sexy Sienna Miller is back in smoking-hot mode (with some peek-a-boo nudity for extra frustration), and the entire movie has been crafted with a sophisticated visual style that blends ingenious sound work with feverish cinematography by Laurie Rose. Jeremy Irons is the brilliant yet foolhardy architect who has constructed a mega apartment building that in essence works as its own self-contained environment. There’s a gym, a grocery store, a school, restaurants, and all the creature comforts you might expect in high-society living, with each level to the high-rise comprising a different sect of society; the higher up in the high-rise, the more wealthy the inhabitants. All hell breaks loose when a series of power failures hit the complex, resulting in a total breakdown of acceptable behavior. Feeling like a thematic cousin to Snowpiercer, Wheatley stuffs his film with a locked and loaded aesthetic, and as usual, the results are wholly cinematic and form pushing; coming on the heels of the hallucinatory A Field in England, his latest walk on the wild side seems like a logical next step, further cementing Wheatley’s anarchist social worldview. The up-for-anything supporting cast includes Sienna Guillory, Luke Evans, Elizabeth Moss, Keeley Hawes, Augustus Prew, Peter Ferdinando, and a totally debauched James Purefoy. I’ve seen the film twice in three days and I can already tell that this one will be binged – HARD – once it hits Blu-ray.
One thought on “BEN WHEATLEY’S HIGH-RISE — A REVIEW BY NICK CLEMENT”
Yeah, this would make a good double-feature with “Snowpiercer.” I watched this a couple of months on Netflix and found it enjoyable even if I’m never convinced that society would go to hell as quickly as these movies seem to think they would. But then again, I’m in no hurry to find out, either.