One of the few terrific films so far this year is “High-Rise,” an alternate-future dystopian sci-fi film based on the ’70s cult novel by J,G. Ballard. It’s about a futuristic high-rise which is encompassed by Britain’s entire class system, with the poor on the bottom and going up in class level with each floor. Tom Hiddleston from the “Thor” films and “Marvel’s The Avengers” stars as the newest resident of the buildings, a doctor who is a bit befuddled when both Sienna Miller and Jeremy Irons (who plays the building’s architect) take an interest in him. People in the high-rise seem to have lots of free time, which they spend sun-bathing or socializing at parties. Some of the elite in the high-rise wear baroque-styled garb. There is a certain giddiness in the high rise until the power outages begin and all hell starts to break loose. As the poor work their way up the building total chaos ensues. People start getting chopped into bits in a brutal anarchistic state of nature.
The plot description sounds pretty simple, but actually this movie is pretty hard to follow. My brother and I watched it three times prior to attempting to review it, since its so off-beat and eccentric. So much happens that it’s hard to keep track of it all, but that’s ok because “High-Rise” consistently works as an exercise in surrealism. There is, for example, a gigantic party in which everyone is dressed in sort of Victorian garb while symphonic versions of Abba songs are played by a large orchestra. The scene doesn’t make any sense, but it’s mesmerizing. The film as a whole is funny and sad. It’s funny because it’s very eccentric, but sad because so much of Ballard’s futuristic vision of class strife has come true. This is a very good movie and I highly recommend it, but be ready to pay close attention. It’s a must for fans of offbeat cinema. –CoolAC & Steve