High-Rise (2015) and some information about the British Film Festival


The London Film Festival has opened and Maysa Monca reviews the film High-Rise, starring Tom Hiddleston.

BFI London Film Festival starts on the 7th and runs till the 18th of October. The Opening Night film “Suffragette” (Sarah Gavron) puts on the headlines Hollywood’s current issue, which is the sexism in the cinema industry. Meryl Streep, Helen Mirren, Anne Hathaway, Cate Blanchett, Juliane Moore, Geena Davies are all giving interviews on the matter. Other movies of the Gala Section shall attract crowds: “Steve Jobs” (Danny Boyle), “Carol” (Todd Haynes), “Trumbo” (Jay Roach), “Black Mass” (Scott Cooper).and “The Program” (Stephen Frears).

I would like to call your attention to “High-Rise”, scheduled for Friday 9th, at 18:15, and Sunday 11th, at 11:30, at Odeon Leicester Square.

I won’t lie to you: the plot of “High-rise” is complex to follow. The first details of sound and image suggest you are getting into the territory of science-fiction but soon after you observe that costumes and soundtrack are from the 1970s. This was the first noise that invaded my senses. Oh, oh, there is something wrong right here. In fact, “High-rise” is based on J. G. Ballard’s book about Britain in a pre-Thatcher era. Every confusion suggested on the first scenes smooths once you understand that the condo is the nation.

Robert Laing (Tom Hiddleston) moves into a new luxury apartment seeking anonymity. The building, a Brutalist concrete tower block, is inhabitted by eccentric tenants very much fond of orgias. The building was constructed by Mr. Royal (Jeromy Irons), who lives in the penthouse. All of a sudden, the structure of the building reveals some problems, like power cuts, a symbol that high life is about to change there.

Wheatley explores very well the satyra of politics and social life set 40 years ago, insinuating that the system had something rotten in the base(ment). Clips of flashforward scenes show the social complexity of the community which will in the end be converted in a sort of tribalism.

“High-rise” does not forget to mock with the cinema industry too. One of the characters, Richard Wilder (Luke Evans), is a documentarist with difficulty in finding a focus to his project. It is a never-ending film, soon to be abandoned for a “new and edgy idea”. I remember seeing a flash of a Bafta award prize mixed with the puzzle.

I guess the intention was exactle this: a puzzle. Who is who when everyone is trying to get a slice of the cake before the economic scandels explode? Who are the businessman, the hooker, the junkie, the preagnant wife, the royals, the servants and the infant? “High-rise” proposes the same inquisitional tone of “Crash” (Cronenberg) and it is not by chance that both movies were based on the same novelist. Time to re-think the values that brought the UK to the current situation. Anarchy is hidden somewhere; it does not reflect exclusively on riots once in a while.


☆ ☆ ☆ ☆




ABOUT THE FILMMAKER: Wheatley directed web shorts and television before transitioning to cinema with his feature debut “Down terrace”. His features “Sightseers” and “A field in England” played in TIFF earlier.

Maysa Moncao


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.