Director Ben Wheatley has quickly become a director to watch over the last few years having directed the quirky likes of Sightseers and A Field In England. He now ups the scope and the subtext with an adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s High-Rise. The film juggles a lot of themes and a large cast, creating a science fiction world set firmly in 1970s Britain. Wheatley doesn’t quite manage to achieve every thing that he set out to do, but he has made an interesting curiosity which is as close to an old school David Cronenberg as you’ll get in the 21st Century.
Current tabloid flavour of the month Tom Hiddleston is Robert Laing, an up and coming doctor who moves into the 25th floor of an impressive new futuristic high-rise tower block. The higher the floor number, the more well-off the inhabitant is and the 40th floor is home to Royal (Jeremy Irons), the building’s overseer. However, the utopia of the richer residents begins to crumble into a dystopia when the building facilities begin to breakdown and soon the socio-economic climate within the High-Rise falls apart leading to death and destruction.
Wheatley has staked his film with an interesting cast, with Luke Evans, Elizabeth Moss, Sienna Miller and James Purefoy joining Hiddleston and Evans. Everyone is good, but the performances are all a touch on the broad-side and high-camp runs through High-Rises dark satiric core. Special mention must go to Clint Mansell’s score and Laurie Rose’s cinematography. Both Mansell and Rose’s work adds a richness to Wheatley’s film and Mansell in particular uses ABBA’s SOS to great effect.
High-Rise isn’t Ben Wheatley’s best film, but it’s always good to see a filmmaker push their boundaries – and this J.G. Ballard adaptation certainly does that.
You get interviews and a commentary which add additional texture and context to Wheatley’s opus.