Monday, May 09, 2016

'High-Rise' Explores How a Utopia Can Quickly Become a Dystopia

Based on the novel of the same name written by J.G. Ballard, High-Rise tells the story of Dr. Robert Laing (Tom Hiddleston) after his recent move into a luxurious, high-tech, 25-story apartment complex built by the esteemed but enigmatic architect Anthony Royal (Jeremy Irons).  Laing quickly settles in comfortably into his new high-rise environment, of constant parties and conveniences.  But, before long, the building starts to descend into anarchy as power failures and technical malfunctions occur more often, and brewing tensions emerge between the residents.

Technically, there’s little to complain about this movie. The premise of a seemingly utopian environment quickly crumbling into a dystopian state is smart and intriguing. The direction moves the story with purpose. The acting is great; Hiddleston, especially, is in his usual charming self. The production value and visuals are stylish and pleasing. This is definitely a technically sound film. And yet, it didn’t strike me much.

I came into this movie expecting it was going to be one of those subtle, thought-provoking science fiction films that moviegoers tend to overlook each year.  And in some ways, it turned out to be so.  But though there are times its narrative is mesmeric, it also has moments where it feels muddled and dull.

Nevertheless, I still consider High-Rise a good watch.  It’s not as cohesive and rewarding as I’m hoping it to be, but it still provides adequate storytelling oomph and interesting social insights to be passably worthwhile.

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