J.G. Ballard’s 1975 book High-Rise details how a luxury apartment building that is designed as an enclosed, self-sustaining community quickly degenerates into violence, primal instinct and tribal warfare as the building's amenities fail and the residents turn against each other.
It's a cautionary metaphor for modern urban life that is just as relevant today as it was 40 years ago, and now director Ben Wheatley has adapted the book, bringing on board a powerful cast that includes Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Luke Evans, Elisabeth Moss, Sienna Miller, and James Purefoy.
Hiddleston plays the main character, Laing, a young doctor who is enticed into moving into the high-rise by its architect (Irons). Once there, however, he discovers that below its shiny surface, the massive edifice and its inhabitants are coming apart at the seams.
Interestingly, Wheatley has not brought the story forward in time, setting it in England just as Margaret Thatcher was coming to power in the late 1970s, placing the movie in an alternate universe instead of a future one.
If you're not familiar with Wheatley, by the way, you should get to know him: he's one of the best new(ish) directors working right now. His previous films include the crime drama Down Terrace, the genuinely disturbing horror tale Kill List, the nasty serial killer black comedy Sightseers and the psychedelic period piece A Field in England (he'a also directed a handful of Doctor Who episodes in the Peter Capaldi era).
I can't wait to see what he's got in store for us with this. High-Rise comes out in the U.K. on March 16, and while it doesn't have a release date in the U.S. yet, it will arrive here later this year. The official synopsis and poster are below. (via Slashfilm)
High-Rise is an adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s novel of the same name. The film centers on a new residential tower built on the eve of Margaret Thatcher’s rise to power, at the site of what will soon become the world’s financial hub. Designed as a luxurious solution to the problems of the city, it is a world apart.
Enter Robert Laing (Hiddleston), a young doctor seduced by the high-rise and its creator, the visionary architect Anthony Royal (Irons). Laing discovers a world of complex loyalties, and also strikes up a relationship with Royal’s devoted aide Charlotte (Miller).
But rot has set in beneath the flawless surface. Sensing discord amongst the tenants, Laing meets Wilder, a charismatic provocateur bent on inciting the situation. Wilder initiates Laing into the hidden life of the high-rise and Laing is shocked at what he sees. As the residents break into tribal factions, Laing finds himself in the middle of mounting violence. Violence that he also finds emerging in himself.