Laing, a young doctor, joins a community in a luxury building in Thatcher's England, who exile themselves from society and gradually divide into violent tribes.
Directed by: Ben Wheatley
. Starring: Tom Hiddleston
, Jeremy Irons
, Sienna Miller
, Luke Evans
, Elisabeth Moss
, James Purefoy
, Keeley Hawes
, Peter Ferdinando
, Sienna Guillory
, Reece Shearsmith
, Enzo Cilenti
, Augustus Prew
, Dan Renton Skinner
. Music by: Clint Mansell
High-Rise will eventually be recognized as the first definitive cinematic exploration of where we actually reside in our postmodern world. Radical Autonomy, the ethos of postmodernism, is now the norm of culture. All forms of actual community have been destroyed, especially the cornerstone of all expansive forms of social community, the nuclear family (Yorgo Lathimos' masterpiece, Lobster, focuses exclusively on this element, yet his hero is, unlike Dr. Laing, totally oblivious, but is finding his way haphazardly). And in High-Rise, pregnant Helen is the last womanperson standing in defending this cornerstone, this Alamo of hers in the belly of the Beast (the Building as metaphor for the culture we are now imprisoned in).
Helen stands valiantly alone in her battle, a Don Quixote absent the fantastical egotism, staring realistically and directly into the pit of uncompromising alienation all around her, but she will find an ally in the Great Liberator, Dr. Laing, the beating heart of the film, a real glimpse at hope, not sentimental rubbish, revealing the basic failing of postmodernism beneath its clutter of hedonistic excess: a world programmed solely for each individual to get hisher needs met, setting everyone off and against each other in selfish paroxysms.
The visionary architect of the film is appropriately named Royal that's Ayn-Randian Royalty, the fully actualized visionary architect who will, as the greatest autonomous artist in history, restore what is grand, as King and Godtowering above all other artists in a ruling progressive "professional class" determined to kill the past to create the future. His determination is to restore the essence of what the Western World sacrificed to gain radical autonomy: true, not pretend, community. That's the heart of the great existential joke of the film, and what makes the film a true postmodern satire of epic proportions, and why each repeated viewing brings on ever more hilarity. For example, it is deemed by the upper- floor residents that children should not be allowed in the pool because they can't control their bladders (the upper classes have actualized their autonomy and simply would not submit to any demands from any other, especially a child, so why even have one?), and every time the cameraman returns to filming the pool, you can see how editors bled yellow into the water where the children swim. Trust meit does get funnier on every repeated viewing!
The professional class (progressives) harnessed most of its power from the psychoanalytic movement, what had Kafka scream, "No more psychology!", and the Psychiatrist of High-Rise, Talbot, clarifies Kafka's concern, a psychology of self- centeredness in the radical promotion of self over everything, including every other, including children ("I can't be there for my child until I get myself together, dammit!"), and including history itself!
The basic distinction between a liberal and a progressive is the latter seeks to kill the past to create its vision of a future, independent of all other influences, to make it pure! And the liberal seeks always to remember the past to avoid the existential horrors we get looped around in throughout history! And of all the professionals in the film, Richard Wilder comes closest to being an old school liberal force, but in whose animalistic pursuit of the truth in a concrete jungle turns himself into his own worst enemy, in the end fulfilling the Building's demand that he rape and murder to fully actualize his radical sense of justice! He is assigned by the Building to demote Charlotte who has gotten far too comfortable in her successful orchestrations of parties at all levels of engagement, and why a quick bond develops between her and the protagonist, Dr. Laing, both accomplished navigators, but Charlotte navigates inside the Beast to acquire maximum benefits, and Laing comes from a world of broad knowledge and seeks not only to move comfortably, but to seek restoration of nuts and bolts of true humanity in the process (an attitude glimpsed for flitting moments inside once suffocated tear-drops).
Wilder is a man engrossed in a mission to uncover evil and promote the good, but he lives simultaneously in both worlds, the ancient liberal world of honor and fighting doggedly to reveal the truth, and the postmodern world where everyone is out for himherself, and damn the truth in process!, and in his animal pursuit of truth and justice, he is taken over by the malevolence of the Building, and finally realizes the Building (postmodern culture) was always more powerful than he, and his dark side ends in manifesting absolutely in the power he utilizes to defeat the Building! Wilder more than anything wants to win, and so he ends in sacrificing his wife and children and his very humanity for this bold adventure into wining, not loving.
Dr. Laing is the postmodern warrior par excellence. He not only has embraced his Iliad, but ignores an Odyssey (no home to return to). Charlotte chooses for Laing when she throws the picture of him and his dead sister to the floor, the last remnant of Laing's delusory clinging to a world that has passed away. He will not be conned by any peripheral, especially from the "progressive class" and its relentless Kantian maze of dysfunctional morality and ethics, although because he and Royal are both absolute visionaries, they share an affection for each other in this regard. But Laing, like Helen, is no Don Quixote trapped in egotism. He is willing to strip away every peripheral to arrive at the nuts and bolts of what is truly true about the human condition. Wilder gave him all he knew, and so did Charlotte and Royal and everyone else, and now it is left to Laing who knows where the heart of restoration begins, with everyone loving the baby born into a genuine community, the first incipient model of nuclear family restoration unto fully actualized community.
Review by Gil Costello
from the Internet Movie Database.