High-Rise (2016)

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Critic Consensus: High-Rise may not quite live up to its classic source material, but it still offers an energetic, well-acted, and thought-provoking take on its timely socioeconomic themes.

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Movie Info

HIGH-RISE stars Hiddleston as Dr. Robert Laing, the newest resident of a luxurious apartment in a high-tech concrete skyscraper whose lofty location places him amongst the upper class. Laing quickly settles into high society life and meets the building's eccentric tenants: Charlotte (Miller), his upstairs neighbor and bohemian single mother; Wilder (Evans), a charismatic documentarian who lives with his pregnant wife Helen (Moss); and Mr. Royal (Irons), the enigmatic architect who designed the building. Life seems like paradise to the solitude-seeking Laing. But as power outages become more frequent and building flaws emerge, particularly on the lower floors, the regimented social strata begins to crumble and the building becomes a battlefield in a literal class war.

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Cast

Tom Hiddleston
as Robert Laing
Jeremy Irons
as Anthony Royal
Sienna Miller
as Charlotte Melville
Luke Evans
as Richard Wilder
Elisabeth Moss
as Helen Wilder
James Purefoy
as Pangbourne
Keeley Hawes
as Ann Royal
Sienna Guillory
as Jane Sheridan
Tony Way
as Robert the Caretaker
Neil Maskell
as P.C. White
Maggie Cronin
as Mrs. Munrow
Kenneth Hadley
as Mr. Hillman
Michael Condron
as Delivery Man
Richard Croxford
as Upper Floor Resident
Patrick Buchanan
as Gym Instructor
Graham Duff
as Queue Person
Colin Ash
as Kid's Party Dad
Matt Faris
as Barricader
Karen Hassan
as Young Woman
Sara Dee
as High-Rise
Monique Kelly
as Wine Woman
Faolan Morgan
as Groping Man
James Murphy
as Upper Floor Man 2
Eileen Davies
as Mrs. Hillman
Alice
as Laing's Dead Sister
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Critic Reviews for High-Rise

All Critics (203) | Top Critics (26)

High-Rise switches genres effortlessly - black humour one moment, dystopic parable the next - until it becomes its own singular, horrifying, immensely captivating thing.

May 20, 2016 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

No matter how much one shades the characters, though, High-Rise defies adaptation because the most vivid character is the building itself.

May 18, 2016 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

There is a goldmine of rich material here, all beautifully shot, but fatally lacking in focus or momentum.

May 18, 2016 | Full Review…

It could take decades for critics and audiences to appreciate whatever genius lurks behind the chaos, but for the time being, it seems like little more than madness.

May 18, 2016 | Full Review…
Variety
Top Critic

Director Ben Wheatley ("Kill List") is masterful with arresting imagery set in a dystopian spin on the '70s; less so with a compelling narrative.

May 13, 2016 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

I soon found myself wanting to wash off the modernist stench of Wheatley's world. And yet it's entrancing all the same, so much so that like Laing and his fellows, I had no desire to leave the high-rise.

May 13, 2016 | Full Review…
Slate
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for High-Rise

Watching High-Rise left me in an agitated state of bafflement. I was desperately trying to fumble for some kind of larger meaning, or at least some kind of narrative foothold from this indie movie about a high-rise apartment complex where the rich reside at the top and the lower classes below. I was holding onto hope that what came across as messy, incoherent, and juvenile would magically coalesce into some sort of work of satiric value. This hope was lost. Director Ben Wheately's (Kill List) movie is disdainful to audience demands, disdainful to narrative, disdainful to characters that should be more than vague metaphorical figures against the British class system. The social class commentary is so stupidly simple. At one point, the upper floor rich talk about how they have to throw a better party than the lower floor plebs (slobs versus snobs!). The movie lacks any sort of foundation but just keeps going; I would check how much time was left every fifteen minutes and exclaim, "How is there still more left?!" This is a chore to sit through because it's so resoundingly repetitive and arbitrary. You could rearrange any ten minutes of the movie and make nary a dent in narrative coherence. There are some striking visuals and weird choices that keep things unpredictable; it's just that I stopped caring far too early for anything to have mattered. Tom Hiddelston plays a doctor in the building and becomes the intermediary between the oblivious rich and the rabble rousing and vengeful poor. I can't tell you why anything happens in this movie. I can't say why the characters do what they do, why the events happen, why anything. It's all just weightless materials for Wheatley's empty impressionistic canvas. As society breaks down, things get violent and yet the movie is still boring. I was hoping for something along the lines of Snowpiercer but I got more of a pulpy Terence Mallick spiral of self-indulgent nothingness. High-Rise is a highly irritating and exasperating movie and I know it's destined to be a future favorite of the pretentious. If anyone says it's one of his or her favorite movies of all time, please kindly walk in the other direction as fast as you are able and then tell an adult. Nate's Grade: D

Nate Zoebl
Nate Zoebl

Super Reviewer

"High-Rise" is decidedly low budget. Atrocious lighting, sound and acting are but the ground floor of the problems with this tear-down of a film. The dialogue and script should have been condemned before the public was allowed in. Despite its constellation of perplexing luminary talent, any curb appeal this film might seem to have merely conceals a crumbling foundation of unskilled directing. Sadly, this project is in sore need of a remodel.

Christian C
Christian C

Super Reviewer

With this disastrous adaptation of J. G. Ballard, Ben Wheatley only proves that he is an awful director who has gotten a lot more attention than he deserved. Full review on filmotrope. com

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

½

Having established himself as a director for the watching with the darkly disturbing Kill List and blackly funny Sightseers, Ben Wheatley continued to explore dark themes with his modestly budgeted A Field in England. Now, though, it's apparent that he's been afforded more money and allowed to work on a grander scale with more established actors. That said, the style and approach to High-Rise still retains that Wheatley edge. Physiologist, Dr. Robert Laing (Tom Hiddleston) moves into a new apartment in a luxury tower block that is insulated from the outside world. It has been designed by Architect Anthony Royal (Jeremy Irons) and operated to provide it's affluent tenants with all the conveniences and commodities that modern life has to offer. However, when the infrastructure fails and tensions between the lower and upper floors escalate, the residents become violent and the situation spirals out of control. Based on the 1975, J.G. Ballard novel of the same name, High-Rise is a provocative exploration of the human psyche when manipulated within a socioeconomic environment. A film adaptation nearly came to fruition in the 1970's with Nicolas Roeg. A later attempt by Cube director Vincenzo Natali also fell through before it, eventually, became a project that Ben Wheatley was interested in. Admittedly, it's a book I haven't read but from what I gather, Wheatley has captured the source materials ferocious and provocative commentary on capitalism and the social constructs therein. Not surprisingly, class division is at the forefront with the ones on the lower level dreaming of more money to enable a move to a higher floor while the rich, aristocrats look down on them with their pompous superiority. A permeating feeling of dread overhangs the proceedings and an almost claustrophobic atmosphere pervades this ruthless and mistrusting insular society. Like all commentaries on class struggle, there's a hierarchy at work and with it comes a darkness that results in disharmony among the residents; it begins with the drowning of a dog in the communal swimming pool while it's owner - a narcissistic actress - grieves while watching herself in the mirror. Before long, drugs, booze and debauchery lead to paranoia before Anarchy eventually ensues. The problem is, it takes over an hour in this capitalist cauldron before the class divide implodes and the "very unhappy bunnies bouncing about" resort to barbarism. That said, Wheatley employs an offbeat, black sense of humour which saves the film from becoming overly depraved and there are welcome moments of surrealist beauty and some genuinely striking imagery. Despite it's fragmented plot, I admired Wheatley's ability to imbue the whole affair with a revolutionary spirit and the clever and succinct parting shot of an overheard radio broadcast of the tyrannical words of the Iron Bitch, Margaret Thatcher, and her hatred of the working class... "Where there is state capitalism there will never be political freedom". It's an ambitious project from Wheatley and it's material that you can't help but feel wouldn't be out place in the hands of Stanley Kubrick but it lacks an urgency and can sometimes stumble towards it's conclusion. When all is said and done, though, there is much to admire here and I didn't find it as bad as many critics have claimed. It left me with echoes of a contemporary A Clockwork Orange. Mark Walker

Mark Walker
Mark Walker

Super Reviewer

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