Opening 30 Jun 2016
Writing credits: J.G. Ballard, Amy Jump
Principal actors: Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans, Elisabeth Moss
I have long loved the stories of J.G. Ballard, and High-Rise is one of his best. It has perhaps the best opening line in science fiction, and this film did that justice. The image of the dog leg turning on the spit clearly showed the dystopian future imagined by Ballard. His stories have also been made into wonderful films before. Remember Empire of the Sun and Crash? The cast included a couple of the coolest men in English film, Tom Hiddleston and Jeremy Irons. Sienna Miller and Elizabeth Moss have also turned in some strong performances. At the end of the day, however, I found High-Rise didn’t live up to my expectations.
Tom Hiddleston played Dr. Robert Laing and was the epitome of the cool doctor, sleek and sophisticated. It was no surprise that he managed to seduce almost all of the women in the multi-story complex. One couldn’t help but feel though that it was too cool by half, and the jiggly camera work that was used during the Babylonian orgies that the building digressed into seemed staged and dizzying. Jeremy Irons was sufficiently creepy in his role as Royal, the architect of the building, but he was chewing the scenery with an over-the-top performance. Wilder (Luke Evans), a filmmaker and husband of the pregnant Helen (Moss), even borderlined on camp. It was also impossible to care about the women, who play damsel in distress or seductive mistress, depending on the scene. I will, however, say that it did manage to create the class warfare that Ballard envisioned in 1975, but it was definitely dated after 40 years. (Laura Langford)