High Rise (15)
From 11th March 2016
Director Ben Wheatley’s take on J.G Ballard’s novel, where
class war breaks out in a 1970’s high rise brutalist block, has
everything in depravity, sex and violence but the feeling that any of
it is real.
I watched in detached indifference - in real life one of our greatest
crimes – and instead of anxiety for a deviant urban future I emerged
with the creeping fear of lifts I have been developing all but cured.
Tom Hiddleston is Laing, the good doctor, landing in an urban dream,
where all needs are catered for until the power fails, the lights go out,
and worse, the bins are not emptied. The bins! That's enough when the
pressure's on for the old thin veneer to crack and explode.
Is it the building that causes civil breakdown? Or the set up of rich
at the top and lesser mortals below?
The social cleansing going on now in London and the creation of 'Poor
Doors' in luxury flats gives us a clue. No lump of concrete ever called
Modernism in architecture left the door wide open for visionaries who
took a chance on their creations working. The mad architect here is Royal
(Jeremy Irons) who incredibly chooses to live in the experiment he has
Being on top, of course, his reality is a rooftop orchard with a trophy
wife riding a white horse on green, green grass. The psychological effects
of buildings, architecture as a public good, and the accountability of
architects are a bit different up here.
Ballard's books I've heard are big on the mayhem of social breakdown,
full of interesting but grim ideas of what's to come.
High Rise, the film, has the mayhem but without ever connecting with
the ideas. With no plot to fall back on you might start wondering why
you are there.
Man of the moment Hiddleston avoids the fate of fellow tenants, James
Purefoy, Luke Evans, and Sienna Miller whose twisted characters have that
cheap feel of telly performers pushed on to the big screen.
Saying that, dystopia's trade on feelings of disconnection. Maybe this
was Wheatley's attempt at it. Or maybe I haven't suffered enough urban
isolation to 'get it'.
Hackney in the rain a couple of months back I suffered. Rows of bleak,
desperate shops, not trading but hanging on, and on a corner a 1960's
concrete structure nailed from top to toe in the roughest chipboard ever
seen. In the gaps I made out it was a college.
A spectacular beacon of hopelessness representing the area and yet 50
yards up a clean lines, chrome and glass cafe packed with hipsters, their
ipads and their sunny futures.
No one in their right mind would travel to mesh with their latte round
here, so..... they must live close by.
It's amazing what urban hell people will willingly put up with. More
of an eye opener than anything in High Rise, the flick.
NERVE supports workers struggling for a living wage.