Life’s better at the top in Ben Wheatley’s High-Rise, adapted from J.G. Ballard’s novel. The story centers on Laing (Tom Hiddleston), a young doctor with a mysterious past, who moves into an apartment in an enormous concrete slab of a housing structure that shoots up into the sky and offers amenities like a swimming pool and a grocery story. The upper floors are for singles and well-to-dos, the lower floors for working class families. Played by Jeremy Irons, the architect of the high-rise lives in the Penthouse Suite, the terrace of which is lush with pasture for his wife’s horse. By the way, the architect’s name is Royal, in case the allegory for classism isn’t clear enough. The plot turns when power outages start unequally affecting the building, galvanizing resentment among the have-nots and fracturing the social structure along existing fault lines, until the tenants collectively lose their minds, the situation slowly and then suddenly degenerating into anomie. Wheatley moves the story forward with montages; he’s effective at filming debauchery and bacchanalia in slow-motion set to music. In fact, no film this year is as committed to showcasing white people dancing and carousing as High-Rise. By introducing conflict, Luke Evans, who plays an unstable documentarian, keeps the movie from becoming too goopy. Sienna Miller plays a homewrecker. Clint Mansell scores.
With a little bit of French, but almost entirely in English.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White