High-Rise (2015)

I told you guys you had two this weekend and here you go!

High Rise (2015)
 Dir. Ben Wheatley
 Writ: Amy Jump
 Stars: Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Luke Evans
 Rated R
 119 mins.
 IMDB 6.3

So this one became available on Amazon Prime and various other places last week so I finally got to watch it and wow. Definitely worth watching. I can’t say it’s very enjoyable of a film, but it’s worth seeing.

High Rise tells the story of an apartment high rise that is basically designed to be like a self-contained town and all of its inhabitants. It seems to be set in 1970s Britain but honestly it’s never made perfectly clear. The film centers around Dr. Laing (Tom Hiddleston) who is just moving into the building when things start to go crazy. He becomes a subject of attention of The Architect Mr. Royal (Jeremy Irons) who lives at the top of the building. It’s a dystopian-esque thriller than makes you descend into madness with the inhabitants of the High Rise as things progress.

Without giving away spoilers since it’s only a recently available film for a lot of us, I’ll just say that this movie is definitely one that, if I were a reviewer who focuses on cinematic quality and the art of film, I would gush forever about the way this film is done. It’s got some seriously top class cinematography and performances that are award-worthy performances. Luke Evans in particular playing Wilder is PHENOMINAL! Tom Hiddleston, who we all know as a very talented actor already, really pulls it out in this one as well. Cinematography speaking, there are some shots that are just amazing. There’s a shot where the camera actually rotates in a circle as someone is coming up a hallway and it fits the idea of ‘spiraling out of control’ in such a literal way that I actually went ‘oh yes‘ when I saw it. It was so good. There are visuals such as the stark uniformity of most things in the building and the ultra-modern starkness that, as the film progresses, it grows less and less clean and uniform to show the way things slowly progress to chaos and calamity. It’s just a really beautifully done film.

However, I’m not a reviewer that focuses on film quality. This blog is called “Chelsea Loves Movies” because I enjoy movies quite a bit.

This was not an enjoyable film.

It was only somewhat interesting in the content until things went bad, honestly. It was a very artistic based film, so the plot has a very loose central theme. The focus wanders quite a bit and there are tons of spots where you’re not sure what you are meant to feel for the characters involved. There is this attempt to bring sympathy to a character that is a lecherous creep, and then right after the poor attempt to bring sympathy to him, he rapes someone, which in fiction is that one irredeemable thing that no character can come back from. And that’s another thing. While it is certainly realistic, sadly, contrary to popular opinion, viewers don’t actually enjoy the reminder that, “When society fails, women and girls will totally be traded for goods and kept as sex slaves”. Yes, it’s realistic and gritty, but as far as ‘enjoyable film’ goes, there’s ‘realistic enough’ and ‘let’s just f*** the viewers up’. Nothing like the line, “She might be worth something; on the lower floors the men are trading wives for food all the time” applied to a woman that’s 9 months pregnant, whose husband is at that time raping someone somewhere else. Add to the fact that, on top of the loose focus and really not enjoyable reminder that we women are commodities (it isn’t a mild focus, it is a very sizeable portion of the film which is why it’s so off-putting), there is the fact that these people are not isolated like in Snowpiercer (which is similar in theme; society breaking down based on class) but rather ANY of them could AT ANY TIME just leave and go back to the city. It’s the point of the film, they are all going mad in concert, but it’s just a constant reminder in your head that ‘hey you could just go?’

My general consensus is that, artistically, this film is really great, but as an enjoyable film, it’s ‘meh’. It’s worth seeing, but I doubt anybody will be watching it multiple times unless it is for the artistry.

My Rating: 4/10


About J. Chelsea Williford

Movie addict, reader, writer, pop culture lover.
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