David Stratton has betrayed me! He said High Rise was an English drama about class and power, and he gave it four stars. Add to his glowing review the lure of a classy cast (Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Keeley Hawes) and I was powerless to resist.
As it turned out, it was a load of baffling bollocks whose bountiful sex and beastly violence didn’t redeem it from being as boring as buggery (just to keep up the b-themed alliteration).
It’s based on a 1975 sci-fi story by J G Ballard, who did specialise in creating weird dystopian futures, although he also wrote the conventional wartime memoir Empire of the Sun, which was made into a not bad mainstream movie in 1984. I quite like good sci-fi and I have nothing against weird dystopias, but the story has to have an inherent logic and plausibility. High Rise was so incoherent and implausible that it just became….boring, as I said before. I spent the last half wondering whether we were supposed to be watching a dream sequence and trying to remember if I’d carelessly overlooked a mention of the word ‘surreal’ in David’s review. If he’d warned me that it was like one of those pretentiously surreal art movies of the sixties I would have avoided it like I avoid anything with surrealism in it – or magical realism for that matter.
I really can’t understand why this movie attracted mostly positive critical commentary. Two people walked out of our session and the rest of us got fidgety and restless as we wrestled with the urge to do likewise. In the end Liz and I stayed, and now she blames me for those two hours she’ll never get back. And I blame David Stratton!
This review was first posted on Facebook in August 2016.