High Rise the 2015 movie that is. Although Project HighRise, the popular video game serves as a major inspiration for this particular post. Both projects involve intricate architectural designs, and both were well received by the public. But I must admit. I was quite happy that I got the chance to revisit High Rise.
Revisiting High Rise 5 Years Later
As I mentioned in the header, I got the chance to watch High Rise for the first time back in 2015. In fact, I got the chance to attend an early screening of the movie. Just before the official premiere. And of course, I was taken aback at how rather unusual it is. But more on my impression later in this post.
First and foremost I’d like to mention a word or two about the game that started this. Project Highrise is however, not the first sim game that I got to write about. Golf, Ski Jumping and even Driving. I’ve covered them all. But the original Project Highrise and several others from the franchise are currently part of our summer sale. Games such as Architect’s Edition, Project HighRise Berlin, Miami Malls, London Life Tokyo Towers and so much more. But hurry up! That sale at IndieGala is almost nearing its end. Hurry up and select your favorite.
But what is Project HighRise?
First and foremost Project HighRise is a skyscraper construction and management simulation game, that’s developed by SomaSim and published by Kalypso Media Digital Ltd.
Secondly, your job as the architect and developer is to build world-famous skyscrapers. They should be the envy of the entire city, masterpieces of art and engineering. However, a skyscraper (or a high rise) is more than just steel and glass. It’ also an intricate ecosystem, full of people that live and work in the building.
So, as the architect, you must coordinate the construction of everything in that building. From every wall and wire, every office and every apartment. As the building owner, you must keep your tenants happy. In the end, as a savvy developer, you must keep an eye on the bottom line and invest in the future.
Moreover, you have two outcomes here. Succeed and you will reap the rewards of creating a building where everyone will love to live and work. Fail and you will watch tenants leave in disgust. All while taking their business elsewhere and leaving your reputation in tatters. Success is entirely in your hands. Are you ready?
High Rise Is a Metaphor
In all essence, High Rise is a nice and disturbing metaphor. At least that’s how I see it. А metaphor for the big divide between the rich and the poor. As you may notice, the entire High Rise is constructed as a very intricate class divide. The rich are staying at the top of the building, while the poorer tenants are at the bottom. And while you’ll find that the movie lacks major things. Such as central conflict in the plot as one YouTuber pointed out. But I think that the major conflict in this movie comes from the complacency of that particular lifestyle. Of having nothing to fight for.
Everyone single one of the tenants in the high rise can leave the building for other things other than work. But if you notice, rarely everyone does. Everything is provided for them on the premises of the high rise. Things like well-stocked supermarket, pool, gym and even school are available at all times. In the building no less. And when you can’t be bothered to make an effort to get to those things, you begin to lose purpose in life. There isn’t the carrot and the stick anymore. Furthermore, everything is nearby and you just don’t wanna make an effort. Add to that isolation (when it wasn’t cool to have it) laziness, complacency and boredom. And after a slight glitch to the high rise utopia, you’ll have a recipe for disaster. Hence, the tenants will start to go crazy, and things will get weirder and weirder.
Fantastic Cast, Killer Soundtrack and Awesome Set Pieces
Yes. High Rise is perfectly summed up in those three things. Let’s start with the brilliant soundtrack by Clint Mansel. Indeed. That Clint Mansel. The film includes two interpretations of the ABBA song “SOS”. One by the film’s composer Clint Mansell and the other by the cult band Portishead. However, did you know that “SOS” was released in 1975? The same year of the publication of the novel “High-Rise”. Cool right?
Furthermore, the main star of the movie is the one and only Tom Hiddleston. He’s good here. Like really good. You can clearly see the effort that he invested in his role. Probably second to the effort in I Saw The Light, but I digress. Which is a totally different movie, but acting gravitas in the role is the same. And commitment I might add. You can see the deterioration of his character as the time goes on, and the downward spiral that’s toying with. He’s drained at the end of the movie, and it’s not just because the character asks for it.
I feel that this role drained Tom Hiddleston emotionally, but that’s OK. The reward of seeing Tom in such a different role is priceless for a true fan such as myself. And Hiddleston actually spent time with a forensic pathologist to prepare for his role since his character. Dr. Robert Laing is a physiologist, but it was a nice research and preparation opportunity for the actor. A nice touch if you will.
Visually Stunning Movie
And if you’re looking for a retro style set pieces that are just to die for, than look no further than High Rise. Seriously. Although designed in the spirit of the 7o’s most of the set pieces and the set design are created to mess with your head. They almost have a slightly surreal feel to them. Like you’re in some weird dream sequence, or in a weird polished maze. Or perhaps in a movie that’s made by the weird disturbed love child of David Lynch and Darren Aronofsky. Take your pick.
I know the analogy is rather stupid, but I have no way of explaining the surrealism in some of the scenes. Which in a way is high praise to the director Ben Wheatley BTW. Not that many can pull it of. In most cases it looks tacky and forced. But not here. Not to mention, his use of slow motion in some of the scenes is really poignant and effective. In both the interior and exterior shots of the building. They’re equally effective, and not even remotely boring. Nice work.
The Direction Is On Point
But the man knows that you can rely solely on that. No, the wide shots that best capture the splendid architectural marvel of the high rise and the hand held shots are equally effective. And you know why? Because the director uses them to deliver the proper message, which is something that’s getting extremely rare. Sometimes the dialogue is not doing that (delivering the message), so you have the visual cues to hep that along.
And sometimes in this movie, the set pieces do that as well. Regardless of the fact that you can’t really pinpoint nor the sets nor the characters properly. Are they in some sort of time time bubble? Are the characters in some weird stage production or are they really living in the high-rise? Sometimes you can’t never tell. And I love that. It gives it a slightly nightmarish atmosphere that blends with the plot development nicely.
While it’s never said out loud, the film’s period is set in the 1970s. There are no cell phones, iPads, the Internet and other modern appliances. But there is a lot of cigarette smoking in areas that are of limits today. Places like doctor’s offices and around children. Not to mention the clothes, vehicles and everyday items were very common in that time period. In fact, in about 80% of the scenes, someone is always smoking.
Margaret Thatcher To End It All
Oh yes. High Rise ends with a radio broadcast of a Margaret Thatcher. The ex-Prime Minister’s speech is from an exchange in the house of commons on 24th November 1976. The suggestion from the movie that it’s the actual date for the film’s setting. But there’s no confirmation of that whatever.
And as I mentioned in the heather, the cast is incredible. Yes, Tom is in the lead role. But Sienna Miller, Luke Evans, Elizabeth Moss, Sienna Guillory and the Oscar winner Jeremy Irons compose the supporting cast. And they’re incredible no doubt about it. However, I feel that not all of the supporting characters were developed properly and they were not presented equally. Which is a shame, because Irons is fabulous, and I wanted more of him. And of Elizabeth Moss as well. I feel that for an actress of her caliber, Moss was given a role that’s beneath her talent. And yes, she dons a nice English accent, but there’s nothing more than that.
But did you know that two of the stars in the movie are actually a real-life couple? Sienna Guillory and Enzo Cilenti are married in real life and starred together in two other movies besides High Rise. The Wicked Within and the 2001 movie Late Night Shopping.
And last but not least, the producer of the movie, Jeremy Thomas wanted to adapt the book for decades before he actually succeeds. He’s famous for producing movies that are book adaptations. So movies like Naked Lunch, Pinocchio, The Dreamers as one of his most famous work so far. He even won an Oscar for producing the Last Emperor.
Your Opinion On High Rise
Did you like the movie? Is it truly an underrated gem? How about the Project HighRise games? Tell us your impressions of the movie or the games. We’d very much love to know them all.