High-Rise ★★★

I'm not sure about this one.

A pleasantly chiseled Tom Hiddleston stars as Laing, a neurosurgeon going quietly to pieces in a Brutalist high-rise where the terms "higher" and "lower classes" apply literally. The problem is, most of his neighbors, including a volcanic Luke Evans as the revolutionary Wilson are imploding too. Mayhem of the darkest order ensues.

High Rise uses the same spatial metaphor to visualize class as Snowpiercer; being based on one of J.G. Ballard's customarily wicked novels, it means it has a lot more to say about the fundamental impulse of modern humans to tear each other to pieces. The mood is obviously dystopian, but Wheatley has a lot of fun exploring the oppressive cement spaces of the high rise, which I'm pretty sure was directly modeled on Le Corbusier's all-inclusive, utopian Cité Radieuse (like it, the high-rise has all the amenities, including schools, bars, and shops, and like it, there is something sterile and menacing in its dark corridors and sterile, grey walls.

And yet, the film is a mess - the story barely hangs on a loose series of vignettes which don't always work or fit into each other. A couple of montages visualizing the building's decline into anarchy as some sort of Goya-inspired nightmare are very good, but the characters, particularly the relationship between Laing and Wilson lack depth.

Overall however, there's something very subversive in the dark dystopianism of the film, which takes a very dim view of class and entitlements, but is equally skeptical of the ability of revolutionary anarchy to solve anything.

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