Laing (Tom Hiddleston) moves into the high rise, a new, schmick building that gleams with promise. He meets his neighbours Charlotte (Sienna Miller), Wilder (Luke Evans) and Helen (Elisabeth Moss) at a seemingly endless stream of parties. Everyone seems to be someone, but there’s still a social hierarchy. At the top is designer Royal (Jeremy Irons) who summons Laing and shows off his vision and apartment with its own white horse. When Laing’s student, Norton, suicides and electricity is lost for those in the cheaper floors, the building turns to chaos.
This is an adaptation of the J G Ballard novel, which should prepare you for the dystopian themes. The story quickly goes from a blackly comic view of society to one of anarchy as the inhabitants and the movie turns on itself. Ballard is a surrealist and hard to adapt; this film shows the folly of trying. And no amount of debauchery can hold its loose lines together as the metaphors beat us into revulsion.
It is well shot, but director Ben Wheatley seems to fall into his own traps. From an early fast pace, the descent to madness becomes drawn and indulgent, with longer shots, like he’s feasting on the orgy of excess himself. But it becomes tedious and disconnected viewing.
Hiddleston and Miller’s acting credentials will survive and Irons seems to go along for the ride. Evans is also very good, and the symphonic-ABBA soundtrack is a nice touch and worth listening to. But when Ann Royal brings her white horse into the middle of the party and asks the un-askable question, I felt it was time to ride off into the sunset. If only the lifts would work.
I often wondered what trapped the residents in this hell. And you might too. And for the same reason, you might find it hard to leave. I think you’ll be happy when the lease is up, although many questions are answered by the sounds of Thatcher at the end.
Con’s Score: 2 smashed bottles of Bolle.
Con Nats – Talking Arts