Friday, 25 March 2016


Capitalism reconstructed in J. G. Ballard's High-Rise, and deconstructed in Ben Wheatley's. There's so much to savour in this film that one can't help but desire merely the chance to do so; there's so much to scrap too, which is to say that there's just too much in general. High-Rise is forty floors' worth of economics, politics and philosophical pontification, established with promise, presented with puerile gusto. An intelligent collage of metaphors serving one greater than all of them, the film is at its strongest when content with being solid, not spectacular. Early developments set their sights on spectacle indeed, but when Wheatley reaches his destination and lets his creative side loose, the looseness swallows up the whole tower block, and it all comes crashing down. He displays a greater focus here than in previous features, at least in the moment - seemingly invigorated by the enhanced production values, themselves contributing to a rather more meta-phor in the context of his career. That focus is absent, however, from High-Rise as a whole; the breakdown of form here reflects the breakdown of society in the film, but when so much of genuine intellectual worth has been committed to, and when Wheatley's arch, wry tone continually suggests that he's actually attempting to comment upon something, to communicate something of equal worth, this breakdown is thus far too unregulated. It's the freest free market of filmmaking, whose sheer monotony (the film runs way past its welcome, making zero progress as it does so) is thereby the most potent proclamation against it in the whole film.