Stars: Tom Hiddleston, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans, Elizabeth Moss, Jeremy Irons, Reece Shearsmith, Peter Ferdinando, Stacy Martin, Keeley Hawes, Sienna Guillory, Augustus Prew, James Purefoy.
Director: Ben Wheatley
Screenplay: Amy Jump
It opens with a punch, bright light, low angle, an unhinged Tom Hiddleston with voice in voice over as he stands next to what could be a dogs leg on a spit. And interesting opening for an even more interesting film—though a relook at the film's duration wouldn't hurt.
Cut to three months earlier and we meet Dr. Robert Laing (Hiddleston) as he moves into his new apartment in a high-rise. Laing is our guide as we are introduced to an eccentric array of characters who also live in the building; people on his level such as Charlotte (Sienna Millar), people from lower levels such as Richard Wilder and his wife Helen (Luke Evans and Elizabeth Moss), and finally people from the elite levels and Penthouse such as the architect himself Anthony Royal and his estranged wife Ann (Jeremy Irons and Keeley Hawes).
This dystopian world though is at odds with our own seems to still work on set rules; People have day jobs—Psychologists, Television Directors, Stay at home Parents, and Film stars—and they all have to have a place to live, some do in the city while others move further out into said high-rises. Laing is seen as a strange type as he is a smart, attractive, and successful bachelor so it is a wonder why he chose to live in a place such as the high-rise.
But he settles in fine with the few people he meets and is even invited to play squash with the architect himself so already he is seen as an impressive fellow in the high-rise. It is a quirky way to live but nothing seems that far out of the ordinary. That is until the electricity starts to play up and garbage shoots block with no real explanation other than "the building is just settling" repeated again and again by the architect. What starts as an inconvenience beings the spiral of insanity as the building falls into a clusterfuck of inner level fighting, looting, rape as the trash piles up leaving the corridors and stairwells almost unusable.
I am not going to try and understand what this film is trying to say—I am sure there is a critique on the upper and lower class of any society—but what is does do is it allows to represent many different perspectives on the same crisis.
It is a bizarre crisis as the tenants of the building slowly loose their senses in a way that can't really be explained and the film doesn't in the slightest try to. Not even our narrator is in his right mind as the plot flows along; at one point he and everyone seem rational...until they aren't. What is seen as at first reasonable as people get fed up with the power being so erratic it quickly moves to complete chaos. I can't pinpoint where this juncture occurs but really it doesn't matter. It's not really meant to make sense, even the outside world's reaction to the high-rise makes no rational sense. All that matters is that this is one heck of a fantastic film and an example of what film can do. It can make worlds and societies that when turned on their head can still exist to tell a thrilling story.