What has recently become one of my most anticipated films of the year, High-Rise, made a debut at this year's Glasgow Film Festival and, now, having seen the latest Ben Wheatley directed picture, here's my review of it.

Doctor Robert Laing (Tom Hiddleston) takes up residence in an apartment on the twenty fifth floor of a grand, luxury tower block, cut off from society and very isolated. When his neighbour, seductive, single mother Charlotte Melville (Sienna Miller), drops a bottle of wine on to his floor from her balcony above, the two befriend one another and she invites Laing to a party that evening. There, he discovers the complex world of class and loyalty on his section of the High-Rise, with a very intricate system having been layered out by the building's architect Anthony Royal (Jeremy Irons). Befriending documentary filmmaker Richard Wilder (Luke Evans), Laing learns of the class system segregating the building - from the high class occupying the top end and the scum loitering the bottom floors. When this system begins to be provoked and parts of the building begin malfunctioning, tension starts to arise as chaos and violence erupt throughout the High-Rise and the whole system goes awry as anarchy tarnishes the social order of the building and causes hell.
J.G Ballard's novel of the same name, that this film is based on, is something of a classic. The story is dark, twisted and an elegant metaphor for the harrowing situation of segregation today and the fragility of the world. Wheatley's adaption remains faithful to the dazzling source material and rips the complex story straight from the pages of the book and slaps it straight on to the big screen and it works and it works well! One of my biggest worries going into the screening of High-Rise was that this film just wouldn't have worked and would have come off as either too insane to the point of being satirical and parody-like or taking itself too seriously that it would have lost all the fun that comes with the chaos in the film. However, Wheatley brings a great balance to the proceedings and juggles the serious undertones with the chaotic endeavours brilliantly.

This film is utterly insane, in every sense of the word. High-Rise is relentlessly violent and the action is all executed so exceptionally, so brutal, bold, gory and dark. The film is packed with jet black humour too. This is a surprisingly witty and funny film, if you consider yourself to have an extremely dark sense of humour. High-Rise is audacious in its action and it's humour, almost to the extent of becoming sadistic and just not working but never quite reaching there. For what the film is, everything works so well together. It is almost like a clock and it works as well as it does because all of the cogs giving it function just work so well with one another - supporting each other and making each other all the more effective. This film is full of chaos and mayhem and it's tons of fun watching all the anarchy descend on-screen.
The acting is great and Hiddleston is remarkable as Robert Laing. The actor brings enough charisma and wit to the role and sells Laing's insanity brilliantly, as the tower block he is residing in begins to go crazy. However, it's a very reserved performance from the actor and isn't outright outrageous. Hiddleston embodies the physicality and the mind-set of such a complex character, adding layers to the nuance of him, disappearing into the role. The supporting cast are all superb too and everyone is just right at home in the chaotic setting amongst all the insanity unfolding - from a seductive Sienna Miller to a cool, subliminal Luke Evans and a subtly intense Jeremy Irons. Wheatley's direction is stunning and of high finesse too, so stylish and very artistic and elegant; he does a very fine job at creating a tense atmosphere. For a dark, gritty film, this is surprisingly wild and vibrant. The cinematography is exceptional and this is a stylish, slick looking film that is so aesthetically arresting.

High-Rise is exceptional! It's wicked, it's disturbing and it's intense but it's massively engrossing and tons of fun to watch. It's well-directed and well-acted, beautifully shot and so finely executed. Wheatley and Ballard make a great duo and the latter's compelling, complex storytelling works as a great device in the hands of the former's dazzling directing craftsmanship. Ballard has provided the riveting characters and the intriguing premise and Wheatley's job is to make sure that the brilliance of it transfers to the big screen and it does and their combined vision is an embellishment of triumph. The one flaw I have with the film, however, is that it never quite feels as innovative or accomplished as it could be nor is there too much to the premise - a high rise erupts into anarchy - so there's no real stakes or not much of developed narrative but it's a small complaint because the film is wonderful, nonetheless, and a resonating, faithful adaption.

VERDICT:
High-Rise is a stylish, artistic and fun display of talent that is disturbing, chaotic, insane and wicked, if just never quite too accomplished.


About the Author

Awais Irfan
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.

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