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Posted on May 11, 2016

Ben Wheatley’s High-Rise: Pretty but Empty

Dawn Keetley

2016   |   R  |   UK   | Ben Wheatley |   119 min

Synopsis: Although Tom Hiddleston is brilliant as its shiny, empty protagonist, High-Rise is tedious, pretentious and, well, empty. Grade: C-

I am an avid fan of Ben Wheatley’s Kill List (2011) and so was eagerly awaiting his latest film, High-Rise, which is based on J. G. Ballard’s 1975 novel of the same name. I was sorely disappointed: High-Rise is a pretentious and pointless film. It somehow manages to be heavy-handed in its attempted allegory and empty of any actual meaning. It was boring; I hated every single character; and I found myself asking every few minutes why I was still watching.

High-Rise begins at the end, with its bloodied protagonist, Dr. Robert Laing (played very effectively by the talented Tom Hiddleston), roasting a dog on top of a high-rise apartment building in some faceless urban landscape. The film then backtracks to the months of chaos and violence that ravaged the apartment block—spurious class conflict enflamed by the perpetual confinement of the high-rise. Indeed, the best part of the film may be the towering figure of the building itself, which is all-encompassing: we only ever see fleeting and partial glimpses of the world beyond, and that exterior landscape only ever appears in the frame with the high-rise (one part of the film I did love, actually). Read more

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