I hated High-Rise the first time I watched it and I hate it even more now.
The only benefit to finishing it is being able to never have to watch it again for this archive. It is a callous work based on a British dystopian novel. I may go back to read that piece of literature so I can do a segment for my Book Vs. Film series, but I can say with a pretty high level of confidence that J.G. Ballard would be hard-pressed to create parchment as agonizing as Ben Wheatley’s excuse for a project.
High-Rise is a society entirely encompassed in a skyscraper. There’s a supermarket, doctor, dentist, pool, gym, parties on seemingly every floor. Aside from leaving for work, there’s no reason to leave. This blueprint was crafted as a utopia, an image of a paradise revolving around a close-knit community. It is also a foreshadowing of the story of Icarus and the Tower of Babel.
Tom Hiddleston’s Robert applied for a residency to get a fresh start. He’s self-sufficient, reserved and socially inexperienced but you get the feeling something is going on in that head of his. He’s a planner, his eyes set on the next step in the ladder, whatever that ladder may be.
This outlook makes him a perfect match for Jeremy Irons’ Anthony Royal, the architect of this establishment. Royal’s vision is complex but passionate. It is an example of looking up before seeing where your feet are.
From there, most interest that the film gathers is left moot as it dives into obscurity and then total madness. The lack of firm footing sends the tower into a struggle for resources. The power grid isn’t sustainable. There’s not enough food. Despite creating a vertical mansion, social superiority is established.
That’s about it. It’s a grating drag on one’s sensibilities and was one of the longer hours I’ve had to experience this movie year. Netflix says the second half was only one hour but it felt like three.
A film centered on social constructs and the animalistic side of humanity becomes so apathetic I wondered a couple of times if Wheatley knew he left the camera rolling. When it comes to film making, you should be able to look at every shot and determine a visual, auditory or narrative basis for it. When you notice takes that don’t, that’s lazy storytelling. That’s becoming fixating on a distraction. That’s what the editor’s table is for.
Despite a few strong thematic opportunities, Wheatley leaves his audience intellectually starved and emotionally despondent. A few tadpoles of dialogue are present in a diluted pool of potential relevant conversations.
Dystopian literature is often a forum on economics, political liability and human psychology. The human brain is a complex vessel, a set of neurons and thought patterns and emotion. High-Rise is frustrating because Wheatley makes humanity seem so basic when it is in fact the opposite.
It is visually discombobulating at times, to the point it feels like an acid trip, and not in an artistic fashion. Spending time talking about a piece of art that lacks so much of that very thing is difficult.
Void of character arc and absent of literary devices, the film compares to the story in that both are empty of elements.
High-Rise is derelict, never establishing its own reality. It is a blank canvas with stuff thrown at it. The canvas looked better unused. It’s an insult to film.
Time to watch the World Cup and get this garbage out of my mind.
Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.
80-89 It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Conjuring, Sinister, Olympus Has Fallen, The Cable Guy, The Cabin in the Woods)
50-59 This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (Wind River, Tommy Boy, Death Note, True Memoirs of an International Assassin, The Great Wall)
40-49 This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Power Rangers, Underworld: Evolution, Batman & Robin, Bloodsport)
30-39 Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (Most Likely to Die, Independence Day: Resurgence, The Crow: City of Angels, Centurion, Planet of the Apes)
0-19 Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The Coed and the Zombie Stoner, The Forbidden Dimensions, Cyborg, Outcast, Sabotage)
My score for High-Rise: 31.
An orgy of incompetence warrants no more of my time or mind. High-Rise is only high in its level of blatant mismanagement. A complete waste of a talented cast.