Cinematic Releases: High Rise

Welcome to the high life. Raul reviews High Rise. 

What happens when you have a story that involves creating a closed society with all of life’s little necessities inside of a highly structured cement apartment building, and then have everything collapse and quickly turn to shit? You end up with a film that mixes elements of Delicatessen, Stanley Kubrick’s Clockwork Orange and The Shining, a Terrance Malick movie, and parts of Mad Max and Lord of the Flies.

Mmmmmmmm......Smurf porn. Just great. 

Aside from the dark humor and tone, this is nothing like director Ben Wheatley’s previous pictures Kill List, Sightseers, and A Field of England. This one is chock-full of visual style and constantly striking imagery, similar to the look of a Kubrick or Malick feature. It feels as if every small detail was planned prior to the beginning of production from the colors and placement of all of the items in the grocery to wallpaper in various rooms, the glass in the elevator that continually reflects multiple images, and the lighting and camera placement. It was all masterfully placed and prepared, much as Kubrick had done in his features. Before all hell breaks out, there are so many beautiful shots that are reminiscent of Malick, who is sometimes criticized for being more concerned with technique and the beauty of the images than the substance and content of his pictures.

Loki hates mirrors. 
It focuses on the themes of class and societal structure, and what takes place when order breaks apart and chaos and primal instinct take over. This part is also somewhat reminiscent of the Kubrick adaptations of The Shining and A Clockwork Orange. In relation to The Shining, there was some type of evil about the mansion in the mountains that drove people mad. There is also something within the walls of this high-rise that is driving the residents to a state of pure animalism. It has provided the residents with a means to escape their previous existence and to create a new one, even if that new one is far worse. It is also like Clockwork Orange because gangs have formed inside the building, based upon the apartment level location and social status within the hierarchical structure of the building. It is also reminiscent of Mad Max and Lord of the Flies, a sort of sociological study to witness what occurs when people lose their basic requirements but are in the confined setting of one apartment. They could leave at any time, but this is their land and they want to fight for it.

The acting is extremely good and features a large cast of excellent actors, each portraying strange and unusual characters. Tom Hiddleston stands out because he is the lead and gives a superb performance. It’s not Loki, but it works. Luke Evans also stands out as one of the crazier characters who is pushing against the upper-level structure of the system. The music is also superb from Clint Mansell, who composed for Black Swan, The Wrestler, and The Fountainhead.

If you like Kubrick, Malick, or unusual dystopian societal motion pictures then you should find this to be very enjoyable.

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-Raul Vantassle