May 18, 2016


REVIEW: High-Rise

The “High-Rise” where the residents check in but they can’t check out because the allegorical script says so.

The film starts off following Laing played by Tom Hiddleston, who moves into a high-rise apartment equipped with everything from a fitness center to a supermarket. The residents never have to leave the building except for work.

It’s a niche piece of art without a traditional plot nor any of the conventional character goals. We’re like flies on the wall following Laing as he meets the other residents, goes to all types of house parties, works out, goes shopping etc.

The complex represents society and the residents are the citizens. A social structure is established where the rich live on the higher floors and the architect has the penthouse, representing government.

But it’s not a perfect place. Things break down, like the elevator and electricity.

The characters are interesting and it’s a fascinating study until the midpoint. Then the film quickly devolves into incredulity as chaos ensues. Everything falls apart and the residents embrace anarchy. It all makes me wonder…

Why don’t they move out?

And the answer is… the movie is an allegory. “High-Rise” is a social sci-fi with political economic significance. It’s set in Britain and has a Margaret Thatcher influence. The film explores what happens to people when social structure collapses—corruptness of man in the worse situations, decadence, along with economic power struggles.

But its effect is weakened by placing the residents in a questionable situation or, at the very least, an unexplained one. It would seem that the outside may have had some type of collapse; but aside from a few seconds of news on the radio playing in the background during the second half, we don’t know what’s going on with the world outside of the building walls.

One could say that’s because it’s an allegory so there is no need to explain. And in that sense when looking at cities or countries as a whole when things go horribly wrong, we ask the question…

Why do people stay in such a place and not move to a different society?

Answer could be as simple as… thats their home. That’s where their family is. That is all they know.

Problem is that doesn’t work very well when looking at a high-rise apartment. The allegory falls apart and feels like it’s build on shaky foundation.

However, providing a credible reason would go a long way to making the story hold firm. And it would be so easy to achieve. Instead we’re left with the elephant in the room—and what feels like absurdity. It could have been so much more intense if the characters were forced to stay due to things beyond their control then let the characters play out the allegory.

Not to mention, that the main character loses significance for most of the second half. And then when we pick him back up, he’s involved with a  neighbor and it feels tacked on.

On the plus side of the second half, watching Wilder, played by Luke Evans, go insane was entertaining. With a collection of fine acting, Evans stood out. That’s impressive.

“High-Rise” was successful in demonstrating the fall of a society in such a non traditional way—through residents in a building. The acting was great. And I was impressed with the directing. The rooms and hallways were so well executed that every apartment had its own feel to it.

But I felt that not offering a better understanding of why the residents would live like that bordered on the ridiculous and took away from the story.

Score: 6/10


About Lisa

Passionate about movies and writing. Hopes to someday be a published writer. So when she's not staring at the tube, she's spilling her imagination onto a blank page.

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