released 18 July 2016 | 15 | Blu-ray / dvd Director Ben Wheatley Cast Tom Hiddleston, luke evans, sienna Miller, Jeremy Irons
Is the sharpest satire strictly of its time – or just ahead of it? JG Ballard’s 1975 novel High-Rise tackled the fast-souring ’60s dream of towerblock living, but its tale of civil war between the floors also anticipated today’s world of one-percenters and social media. It’s a pertinent time to bring it to the screen.
Ben Wheatley roots the fable in the ’70s but gives all that brutalist architecture a golden modernist glow, locating it in “A future that had already taken place”.
The upper classes live in shagpiled splendour, listening to Abba performed by string quartets.
Fine black comedy and a waspish screenplay
The lower levels live in sulky desperation, coveting the swimming pool. Everyone has the kind of no-strings sex that powered the letters pages of ’70s Penthouse. Enter Tom Hiddleston, oozing English repression and incipient psychosis, an outsider poised between these two worlds.
There’s some fine black comedy – a pet dog’s leg on a spit – and a waspish screenplay (“Like all poor people she’s obsessed with money,” laments one of the overlords). But ironically when it all kicks off the film starts to leak energy, lose focus. You miss the tension of the first half, coiled like the sense of potential violence beneath Hiddleston’s immaculate kick-flare suit.
Extras “Bringing Ballard To The Screen” is a limp three-minute promo soufflé. The DVD also offers interviews with Hiddleston, Miller, Evans and Irons, while the Blu-ray adds 16 more talking heads. Ben Wheatley, Hiddleston and producer Jeremy Thomas offer an insightful audio commentary on both formats.
An Easter egg features Hiddleston and Evans dancing. Find it on the menu: highlight “extras”, press up, then enter.
“Next time, hire a decorator.”