Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Sienna Miller, Jeremy Irons
Director: Ben Wheatley
Running Time: 119 mins
High-Rise is a British film about a community of wealthy individuals in a luxurious tower block whose lives begin to go out of control, as the facilities of their residence start to decay.
A bold attempt at blending contemporary social commentary and futuristic sci-fi together, High-Rise is an undeniably ambitious film, but sadly one that doesn’t quite stick the landing. Despite an interesting premise and captivating ideas, it’s a disappointingly messy watch, and far from the hard-hitting and thought-provoking commentary it aims to be.
I say that the film is bold, but in reality we’ve seen this sort of premise before. Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer is a far more effective portrayal of class divisions and the breakdown of society in a futuristic landscape, while Pete Travis’ Dredd is as visually spectacular as it is dramatically gripping.
High-Rise, on the other hand, sets up for an engrossing and chaotic tale of a supposed utopia falling apart, but does so little with it. From a frustrating pace to unnecessarily complex character relationships and even a rather drab visual style, it’s a film that consistently misses the mark on the story it wants to tell.
Right from the start, the film seems insistent on playing out in an ambiguous, abstract manner, but fails to create any real mystery or atmosphere out of it. There’s certainly a sense of chaos that builds through the film, but that’s more down to the rather messy narrative and style than the actual events of the story.
The film’s A-list cast also doesn’t do much to save the film. Tom Hiddleston’s typical charisma is unnecessary here, and his attempts to play the role in a more conventional style really clashes with some of the more outlandish supporting turns, as well as the general style.
Plus, there are just too many different ideas at play in High-Rise. From its unfortunately ineffective attempts at social commentary to an ensemble cast who are all doing something completely different, the film tries to be chaotic and complex, but ultimately ends up as little more than a messy melting pot of ideas that sound great at first, but leave a lot to be desired when executed.
Again, this film deserves credit for trying something bold and difficult. But, particularly in comparison to other films that have aimed for a similar objective, High-Rise is a really underwhelming and frustrating watch, so that’s why I’m giving it 6.0 overall.