Dr. Robert Laing (Tom Hiddleston - Thor: The Dark World) moves into a brand new tower block, one of 5 finger like constructions which rise high in to the sky. But Robert learns, as he meets the various residents, that this tower block has various social scales with the working class living lower down whilst the higher you get the wealthier and snobbish the residents become before at the top in a penthouse lives architect Anthony Royal (Jeremy Irons - The Two Faces of January). But as time passes the system on which this society is built starts to collapse as those lower down struggle whilst those higher up don't care until those lower down, lead by Richard Wilder (Luke Evans - Fast & Furious 6) start to revolt and chaos ensues.
With a lot of directors you know what you will get, yes they will once in a while stray from what you know them for but most have a type of movie they make. Having watched a few movies from director Ben Wheatley I am coming to the conclusion that he doesn't have a genre or style which he prefers and will try anything as long as the idea interests him. Maybe Wheatley's thing is movies which will provoke a reaction and in the case of "High-Rise" my reaction was one of hating it.
But before I get to my dislike of "High-Rise" let me mention some positives and the first is the whole idea of using a tower block as a representation of a social structure, the proverbial social ladder with the higher you go the more privileged you are. It is a nice idea especially when you incorporate the failing infrastructure of the building, such as power issues, into the mix as a catalyst for causing unrest whilst also having some characters protective of their class and like to make sure people know their place. It is admittedly clever and at times visually striking, and I don't just mean the scene of Tom Hiddleston barely covering his manhood with a towel.
But the trouble is that "High-Rise" starts to feel pretentious, like it is being created by someone who doesn't care whether audiences will get it or like it as they are more concerned with their creative vision and they are going to make it no matter what. But in doing so it does provoke a reaction and for me the whole thing simply became pretentious rather than entertaining or interesting. The knock on effects of this is that the likes of Tom Hiddleston, Luke Evans and Jeremy Irons all deliver characters but there is not a single likeable character in the movie. Maybe that was the intention but for me and my traditional likes, a likeable character is important.
What this all boils down to is that whilst there were parts of "High-Rise" which I could appreciate as a whole I disliked it and found it simply pretentious. But admittedly I am old school when it comes to entertainment and I am sure if your taste in movies is for something which isn't typical and provokes a reaction then "High-Rise" will be for you.