I spent a great deal of anguish in deciding whether or not to see this; principal reason being that I knew it features a dog which meets an awful fate, something that regularly happens in certain countries, especially in Asia and some in Africa. Although only a brief detail (which isn't dwelt on) in the film, I don't have to see it depicted for it to affect me deeply and distressingly.
In addition there's the presence of an actor who now carries such heavy negative baggage for me that I want to hiss every time he comes on screen - which is often in this one. Yes, it's the vociferously blood-sport supporting and gay marriage-opposing figure of Jeremy Irons, whom I'd only seen very recently as butler Alfred in the mega-dud 'Batman v Superman' (though he did virtually no 'butling' in that film).
My reason for deciding to go was that the director is Ben Wheatley, who has already made some highly interesting, curiously off-beat films in recent years viz 'A Field in England' and 'Sightseers' (the latter I particularly liked) - as well as the well-regarded 'Kill List' which I wasn't able to see.
'High Rise' is based on a 1975 J.G.Ballard dystopian story set either in the future or in some parallel contemporary world where a certain semblance of social order is maintained only within a residential high-rise block of apartments in an unspecified location, probably London, each of the occupants being mutually dependent on each other for fuel, power, food, waste disposal, social cohesion etc, everyone living so close to each other that friction between the residents only needs the slightest provocation to set off a major riot, which is exactly what happens after the film's opening section when a fragile peace was being maintained.
I've seen Tom Hiddleston in a major film role only once before, in Terence Davies' admirable adaptation of Rattigan's play 'The Deep Blue Sea' a few years ago. I know he's also done quite a bit of TV work. In this film he's the principal character, a doctor living alone, trying his best to interact to people around him without being riled by them. The main female part is given to Sienna Miller (I was never quite sure how her character fitted into the overall plan).. Then there's Jeremy Irons as an ageing authority figure, who continues to exercise a crumbling influence as the block's architect.
The tipping point of the film is the riot, with plenty of violence (though I've seen a lot worse) when all hell breaks loose between various residents with conflicting loyalties. It's all very depressing and I didn't find the film an easy watch. Yet, in spite of feeling a bit 'soiled' watching all these anarchic activities I have to say that there's also something compelling about the film.
Btw: Why is it that in so many films set in the future or in a different dimension there is still so much smoking going on - when I, at least, would have expected that it would have been confined to very few or, indeed, have died out completely? In this film practically every adult character is smoking his or her head off, including the doctor, as well as one of the woman characters in a very advanced state of pregnancy.
Not a bad film by any means, then, but not one I'd want to see again. Neither is it one which I'd heartily recommend. It's disturbing, though not in the satisfying way I've found some others of Wheatley's films..........................6.
2 hours ago