Tom Hiddleston’s voice croons to the audience about his new home, as High-Rise begins with a shot of him petting a dog on an apartment balcony, before killing it and roasting its leg for dinner.
We then flash back to three months ago as Hiddleston’s alter ego Doctor Robert Laing moves into his ultra-modern flat, with cut away shots to residents of the high-rise tower block moving in a military, Stepford Wife-fashion down to their cars for work to chaotic string quartet music.
The ’70s vibe is already in full swing by this point thanks to the on-point costumes and general mise-en-scène, which is retro to say the least.
As Laing casually sunbathes naked on his balcony a bottle of alcohol falls out of the air next to him and smashes, causing him to look up and feast eyes upon his glamorous neighbour Charlotte (Sienna Miller). Between being hit on by Luke Evans’ married TV worker Richard Wilder, Charlotte invites Laing to a soiree she’s throwing that night.
This is when viewers witness the severe class differences in the building as it’s revealed Wilder’s family – including his wife Helen (Elisabeth Moss) and their kids – are strapped for cash, while Laing’s colleague at the hospital Munrow (Augustus Prew) is living it up on one of the higher, wealthier floors.
At the top of the block lives Anthony Royal (Jeremy Irons), the architect behind the building who resides with his wife Anne (Keeley Hawes) in his surreal-pad boasting horses and a heavenly garden.
As the power starts to fail on the structure, chaos quickly descends and the residents suddenly turn to their animalistic nature in a fight to survive. It proves too much for some as Munrow is pushed to his limits, and his suicide by jumping off a balcony is the trigger behind Wilder’s determination to make a documentary.
It’s hard to sink your teeth into this feature as while there’s a steady build-up to a mid-movie climax involving a crazy kids’ party, little happens afterwards. With so much going on you’re left wondering who is battling for which side, and why they’re in such a dispute to begin with.
Another sentiment that’s difficult to believe is the way the various classes try to ‘out-party’ each other, as the posh, well-off residents believe the key to winning the battle is by holding an even bigger and better bash.
With no running water, barely any food left in the on-site supermarket, in real life one would simply leave and set up a new home elsewhere, yet everyone is adamant on staying put. Because of this, it’s tricky to relate to and as more ridiculous things happen, the more you’re hoping it will end soon.
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