Tower strug­gle

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Reviews - Nick Setch­field

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.”

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