Last week, I went to a screening of the film High-Rise. Based on the novel by J.G. Ballard, written by Amy Jump, and directed by Ben Wheatley, this film has quite the star-studded cast featuring Tom Hiddleston as the protagonist, alongside Sienna Miller, Jeremy Irons, and Elisabeth Moss. Here’s the trailer:
I thought I understood what I was going to see when I went into the film. The succinct IMDB synopsis states “Life for the residents of a tower block begins to run out of control” which is some parts accurate and for other parts, don’t even begin to summarize this movie at all.
Tom Hiddleston moves into this apartment building where rich people are on the higher floors and poorer people down below. The residents don’t seem to do much but party and when these parties result in an unequal distribution of power (literally, like water, electricity, etc.) things start to go awry. Well, more like absolutely insane, eventually devolving into crazy orgies, murder, and a style of grappling for power resembling Lord of the Flies.
What did I like about the movie?
For one, the cinematography is absolutely gorgeous. The color, the lighting, and some interesting shots: like one murder scene shot as if viewed through the lens of a kaleidoscope.
Another thing I adored were the performances put on by Elisabeth Moss and Sienna Miller. Their sometimes contrasting, sometimes equal portrayals of fragility, weakness, confidence, and motherhood interested me far more than many of the other “key” characters.
What didn’t I like?
The entire second half. Everything halfway on from the film felt chaotic and not in a fun, party-time way. Boring. Confusing. Stifling. At quite a few moments, I found myself continuing to wonder: when will this movie end? Why is this happening? What’s going on? When will this movie end?
But for all of my discomfort with the second half (mainly the third act), there are plenty of positives and thought-provoking moments in this film that bar me from dismissing it entirely. If you want a movie with a predictable plot point and a satisfying ending with loose ends neatly tied, this is not your movie.
If you want a movie that will please you visually and leave you wondering about it long after you’ve left the theater, then by all means, get to High-Rise.
Featured image via The Hollywood Reporter.