Emotional carnage. Overflowing waste. Broken bones in the supermarket.
These are only a few of the phrases you could use to describe the contents of the film High Rise. It is a high-octane tour of the senses and an all-too-real look into what can happen to people’s mental health when they are backed into a corner that masquerades itself as what is “hip in society”. It is both stylish and garish in its photography – think Mad Men meets One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – and is detailed in its call back to 70s fashion; and the tendency in British society at that time to always be looking to the solutions of the future, rather than the problems of the present.
An all-star cast (Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Elizabeth Moss, Sienna Miller and Luke Evans) bare their souls for the audience; playing their parts to perfection and letting the madness literally speak for itself. And the madness is kind of beautiful in the way it is portrayed, with slow motion interactions and happiness juxtaposed with despair.
The audience is privy to the slow but steady creation of a cult, and the destruction of a society that considered itself civilised, all within the confines of a high rise structure that nods towards a better future. Each floor level represents a tenant’s perceived role in society – doctors and business men and women are on the higher floors, low income families and artists are much lower down – and the end result is a (sometimes) literal fight to the death to retain or grasp some higher status.
This film is a commentary on society if ever there was one, and demonstrates how easy it is to become comfortable and settled into a state of madness and chaos, especially when those around you are doing the same. Director Ben Wheatley also subtly reminds us that it is easier to lose sight of any kind of morality when you have both money and power.
High Rise shines a light on the distorted mirror of society that we all preen ourselves in front of, and lets us bear witness to the danger humanity poses to itself on any given day. Yet it does it with humour, sex, anger, fear and the seductive nature of mob mentality.
Go, see this film, and get dizzy from what happens in the High Rise.