High-Rise ★★★★

”This was an environment built, not for man, but for man’s absence”. The words of J.G. Ballard echoes throughout Ben Wheatley’s magnificent film adaptation of Ballard’s classic sci-fi novel ”High-Rise” (1975).

The High Rise is a futuristic 40-floor complex which acts as a symbol, a class allegory, where people with low status reside in trash down at street level and people of wealth ride horses in magnificent gardens on the top floor. It’s designed by the building’s architect Anthony Royal (Jeremy Irons), who has some wild ideas about the influence of architecture on human behavior.

”High-Rise” is absurd, bizarre and filled to the brim with dreamy surrealism - but without the blurry, soft lens. This is happening now, in ”a future that has already taken place”, as Dr Laing - one in a never-ending stream of stylishly odd characters - says in the film’s opening scene. Dystopia has just set in. Everything looks fine and dandy, but hell awaits.

Ben Wheatley’s ”Kill List” (2011) blew me away. One of my all time faves. But ”A Field in England” (2013) was quite disappointing, seemingly being all out weird for the sake of being weird. ”High-Rise” is also weird, but on a whole nother level, just like Ballard’s book. This one is a feast, both for the eyes and for the mind.

Bonus: Music by Clint Mansell and Portishead’s cover of ABBA’s ”SOS”.