High-Rise (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Theatrical release poster
Directed byBen Wheatley
Screenplay byAmy Jump
Based onHigh-Rise
by J. G. Ballard
Produced byJeremy Thomas
CinematographyLaurie Rose
Edited by
  • Amy Jump
  • Ben Wheatley
Music byClint Mansell
Distributed byStudioCanal
Release dates
  • 13 September 2015 (2015-09-13) (TIFF)
  • 18 March 2016 (2016-03-18) (United Kingdom)
Running time
119 minutes[1]
CountryUnited Kingdom
Budget£6.1 million (approximately US$8 million)[2]
Box office$4.1 million[3]

High-Rise is a 2015 British dystopian thriller film directed by Ben Wheatley from a screenplay by Amy Jump, based on the 1975 novel of the same name by J. G. Ballard.[4] The film stars Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans, and Elisabeth Moss.[5][6][7]

The film is set in a luxury tower block in 1975. Featuring a wealth of modern conveniences, the building allows its residents to become gradually uninterested in the outside world. The infrastructure begins to fail and tensions between residents become apparent, and the building soon descends into chaos.

In September 2015, the film received its world première at the Toronto International Film Festival and its European première at the 63rd San Sebastián Film Festival. The film was released in the United Kingdom on 18 March 2016 by StudioCanal. Though a modest critical success, the film's theatrical box office failed to meet its production costs.[2][8] In 2017 it was nominated for the Empire Award for Best British Film.


In September 1975, Dr Robert Laing lives in a ravaged high-rise tower block, killing a dog and spit-roasting its leg.

Three months earlier, the 40-storey tower on the outskirts of London, built by esteemed architect Anthony Royal, is the epitome of chic, modern living. Wealthy residents live on the top floors, and poorer residents live below. With amenities including a pool, gym, spa, supermarket and primary school, the occupants have little reason to leave the building beyond working hours and become increasingly isolated from the outside world. Laing, who moves onto the 25th floor after his sister dies, begins a sexual relationship with single mother Charlotte Melville and becomes a father figure to her son, Toby. Laing also befriends documentary filmmaker Richard Wilder and his pregnant wife Helen, who live in a low-level apartment with their children. While Laing leads a physiology class in examining a severed head, a student named Munrow faints and is given a precautionary brain scan. The next day, Laing is taken to the 40th-storey penthouse to meet Royal, who invites him to a party thrown by his snobby wife, Ann.

The gathering turns out to be an 18th-century costume party where Laing's everyday suit is ridiculed by Ann and other guests, including Munrow, who also lives in the building. Humiliated, Laing is thrown out of the party and becomes trapped in an elevator during a power outage. Such outages are becoming common, along with water being shut off and garbage chutes becoming blocked, to the annoyance of residents. Royal tells Laing these are simply growing pains of a new building. Munrow's brain scans come back clean, but a vengeful Laing leads him to believe he has a brain tumor. Another power outage ignites a night of decadent partying throughout the high-rise, and a drunk Munrow commits suicide by jumping off the 39th floor. Suspicious that no police arrive to investigate, Wilder becomes intent on exposing the injustices within the high-rise. Law and order in the building disintegrate as violence and debauchery become commonplace, garbage piles up, food becomes scarce, and class warfare erupts between floors. Laing shows signs of mental disturbance, savagely beating a man, barricading himself in his apartment, and having sex with Helen.

Wilder, having been beaten by upper-floor residents, decides to kill Royal, believing him responsible for the chaos. It is implied that Royal has bribed authorities to ignore the disorder. Acquiring a gun from the Royals' former housekeeper, Wilder learns that Toby is Royal's illegitimate child. Breaking into Charlotte's apartment, Wilder tortures and rapes her for information on Royal. A television newsreader named Cosgrove, the only upper-floor resident who still leaves for work, is killed by a gang of lower-floor residents. Some upper-floor residents butcher Ann's horse for meat and ask Laing to lobotomise Wilder as a dangerous agitator. After conducting a psychiatric examination, Laing refuses, stating that Wilder is "possibly the sanest man in the building". Laing is nearly thrown off the tower, but Royal intervenes. He surmises to Laing that the failure of the high-rise may actually be a kind of success, a "crucible for change" that could lead residents to escape to a new life. Helen gives birth to her overdue baby. Wilder makes his way to the penthouse, and after a confrontation with Royal, shoots him dead. Wilder is then stabbed to death by Royal's women, as Toby looks on through his kaleidoscope.

The film ends as it began in the ravaged high-rise. Violence has abated somewhat since many residents are dead or have fled. Laing appears to have gone insane, speaking about himself and to others in the third person. He lies down with Charlotte, reflecting that what has happened will eventually occur in the second tower of the development. The film concludes with Toby listening to a radio broadcast of Margaret Thatcher declaring that "where there is state capitalism there can never be political freedom."




British producer Jeremy Thomas had wanted to make a film adaptation of J. G. Ballard's High-Rise since the 1970s.[9] He tried to make it in the late 1970s with Nicolas Roeg directing from a script by Paul Mayersberg.[10][11] In the 2000s, Thomas began developing the project with screenwriter Richard Stanley and director Vincenzo Natali, with the film intended as a loose adaptation of the novel.[12]

In 2013, Wheatley started looking into who held the rights to the book, which led him to Thomas.[13] Wheatley has remarked: "The book makes as much sense now as it did then. It was written in the '70s, projecting itself into a near future, but we live in that future now. We're almost in a new version of the '70s."[14]

Screenwriter Amy Jump, who is also Wheatley's wife, adapted the book.[15]

Hiddleston's involvement in the project was announced in February 2014 after he was cast in the role of Dr Robert Laing.[16] Hiddleston had previously worked with Thomas on Jim Jarmusch's 2013 film Only Lovers Left Alive.[6] The involvement of Luke Evans and Elisabeth Moss was announced that June.[17][18]

Clint Mansell composed the soundtrack for the film.[19]

International sales were handled by HanWay Films, and key financiers included the British Film Institute and FilmFour.[14][18]


Principal photography began in July 2014 in Belfast,[5] primarily in the seaside resort town of Bangor, County Down.[20][21]

On 3 July 2014, Wheatley tweeted pictures of the set.[22] On 6 August 2014, Hiddleston tweeted a photograph of himself from the set seen in character as Laing, together with Wheatley, Evans and director of photography Laurie Rose.[23]

Elisabeth Moss later remarked on Wheatley and the shoot: "I don't know anyone who makes movies like he does... (it was) like if you gave him a bigger crew, a little bit more money, costumes and hair and makeup, all of that stuff that maybe he hasn't had before. It was so fun, he is just a fucking genius and he's so funny."[24]


Prior to production on the film, it was announced that StudioCanal and The Jokers would be distributing the film in the United Kingdom and France, respectively.[18] In August 2015, it was announced that Soda Pictures would distribute the film in Canada.[25] The film had its world première at the Toronto International Film Festival on 13 September 2015.[26] It had its international premiere at the San Sebastian Film Festival on 21 September 2015.[27] The film went onto screen at the London Film Festival on 9 October 2015, and the Torino Film Festival on 22 November 2015.[28][29] Shortly after, it was announced Magnet Releasing had acquired the US distribution rights to the film.[30] The film was released on 18 March 2016 in the United Kingdom.[31] The film was released in the United States on 28 April 2016, with a day and date video on demand and theatrical limited release on 13 May 2016.[32][33]

The film failed to recoup its production costs.[2][8]

Critical response[edit]

Tim Robey of The Telegraph awarded High-Rise 4 out of 5 stars, praising the brutality and dark comedy.[34] IGN awarded it a score of 7.0 out of 10, saying "Enjoyably dark and disturbing adaptation of one of J.G. Ballard's best."[35] Kate Wilson of Varsity gave the film a 5-star review, calling it a "masterpiece."[36] In a review for Architects Journal, Laura Mark was impressed by the "fantastic" visuals but noted that it lacked plot. Mark also stated that the dystopia portrayed reflected current concerns regarding gentrification and division.[37]

On Rotten Tomatoes, it has an approval rating of 60% based on 223 reviews, with an average rating of 6.4/10. The site's critics consensus reads: "High-Rise may not quite live up to its classic source material, but it still offers an energetic, well-acted, and thought-provoking take on its timely socioeconomic themes."[38] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 65 out of 100 based on reviews from 36 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[39]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipients Result
British Independent Film Awards[40] 6 December 2015 Best Actor Tom Hiddleston Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Sienna Miller Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Luke Evans Nominated
Best Screenplay Amy Jump Nominated
London Film Critics' Circle Awards[41] 22 January 2017 British/Irish film of the Year High-Rise Nominated
British Film Designers Guild Awards[42] 28 January 2017 Best Production Design for an Independent Feature Film Mark Tildesley, Frank Walsh, and Paki Smith Won
European Composer and Songwriter Alliance Grand Scores Award[43] 2 February 2017 Best Orchestral Score Clint Mansell Won
Empire Awards[44] 19 March 2017 Best British Film High-Rise Nominated
Diversity in Media Awards 15 September 2017 Movie of the Year High-Rise Nominated

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "HIGH-RISE (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 11 February 2016. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  2. ^ a b c Russell, Anna (5 May 2016). "'High Rise': Filming the 'Unfilmable' Ballard". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  3. ^ "High-Rise (2016) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  4. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (13 May 2014). "Jeremy Irons Heads For High Rise". Screen Daily. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  5. ^ a b Wales, George (5 February 2014). "Ben Wheatley confirms Tom Hiddleston for High-Rise". Total Film. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
  6. ^ a b Barraclough, Leo (5 February 2014). "Berlin: Tom Hiddleston to Star in Ben Wheatley's J.G. Ballard Adaptation 'High-Rise'". Variety. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
  7. ^ "Tom Hiddleston to film in Northern Ireland this June". Radio Times. 1 May 2014. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
  8. ^ a b "High-Rise (2016) - Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 4 July 2016.
  9. ^ Jury, Louise (19 May 2014). "High rise drama and David Hockney in frame for new British films". Evening Standard. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  10. ^ Marsh, Calum (9 December 2013). "Lost in Translation: Notes on Adapting Ballard". The Paris Review. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  11. ^ Williams, Owen (29 August 2013). "Ben Wheatley Directing Ballard's High-Rise". Empire. Archived from the original on 16 December 2017. Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  12. ^ Kaufman, Anthony (4 June 2010). "Director Vincenzo Natali on 'Splice': 'It's a dangerous film on a number of levels'". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  13. ^ Child, Ben (29 August 2013). "Ben Wheatley to direct adaptation of JG Ballard's High Rise". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
  14. ^ a b Hewitt, Chris (2 June 2015). "First Image From Ben Wheatley's High-Rise". Empire. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  15. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (5 February 2014). "Berlin: Tom Hiddleston to topline High-Rise". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  16. ^ Denham, Jess (5 February 2014). "Tom Hiddleston cast as lead in film adaptation of JG Ballard's High-Rise". The Independent. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
  17. ^ Lyttelton, Oliver (13 June 2014). "'The Hobbit' Star Luke Evans Joins Tom Hiddleston In Ben Wheatley's 'High Rise'". IndieWire. Archived from the original on 16 June 2014. Retrieved 16 June 2014.
  18. ^ a b c Barraclough, Leo (25 June 2014). "Luke Evans, Elisabeth Moss Join Ben Wheatley's 'High-Rise'". Variety. Retrieved 26 June 2014.
  19. ^ "Clint Mansell Scoring Ben Wheatley's 'High-Rise'". Film Music Reporter. 30 March 2015. Retrieved 2 April 2015.
  20. ^ "Tom Hiddleston spotted on the set of 'High Rise' in Northern Ireland". On Location Vacations. 17 July 2014. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
  21. ^ Christine. "'High Rise' film to be shot in Bangor this summer". North Down Borough Council. Archived from the original on 12 August 2014. Retrieved 8 August 2014.
  22. ^ Brown, Brigid (3 July 2014). "First Look: Director Tweets 'High-Rise' Set Photos, Thriller Stars Tom Hiddleston". BBC America. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
  23. ^ Daly, Emma (7 August 2013). "Tom Hiddleston tweets group picture from the set of High-Rise". Radio Times. Retrieved 8 August 2014.
  24. ^ Jagernauth, Kevin (14 October 2014). "Interview: Elisabeth Moss Talks 'Listen Up Philip,' Ben Wheatley's 'High Rise' & A 'Mad Men' Spinoff". IndieWire. Retrieved 17 April 2021.
  25. ^ Grater, Tom (26 August 2015). "Soda picks up rights to 'High-Rise', 'Disorder'". Screen Daily.
  26. ^ "High Rise". Toronto International Film Festival. Archived from the original on 22 December 2015. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
  27. ^ "High Rise". San Sebastian Film Festival. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
  28. ^ "High Rise". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on 8 September 2015. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
  29. ^ "High Rise". Torino Film Festival. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
  30. ^ Sharf, Zack (7 December 2015). "Ben Wheatley's 'High-Rise' Acquired by Magnet Releasing". IndieWire. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
  31. ^ Gallagher, Brian (14 December 2015). "'High-Rise' Trailer Starring Tom Hiddleston & Sienna Miller". MovieWeb. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
  32. ^ "High Rise". Magnet Releasing. Retrieved 19 January 2016.
  33. ^ Erlich, David; Epstein, Dan; Fear, David; Grierson, Tim; Tobias, Scott (13 May 2016). "50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2016". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 19 January 2016.
  34. ^ Robey, Tim (14 September 2015). "High-Rise review: 'the height of decadence'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 12 February 2016.
  35. ^ Tilly, Chris (29 September 2015). "High-Rise Review". IGN.
  36. ^ Wilson, Kate (9 October 2015). "Film: High-Rise". Varsity. Retrieved 12 February 2016.
  37. ^ Mark, Laura (21 March 2016). "Review: High-Rise". Architects Journal.
  38. ^ "High-Rise (2015)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 10 October 2021. Edit this at Wikidata
  39. ^ "High-Rise Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 29 June 2017.
  40. ^ Ritman, Alex (3 November 2015). "'The Lobster' Leads British Independent Film Awards Nominations". The Hollywood Reporter.
  41. ^ Ritman, Alex; Szalai, Georg (22 January 2017). "British/Irish Film of the Year - London Critics' Circle Film Awards Winners". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 22 January 2017.
  42. ^ "THE BRITISH FILM DESIGNERS GUILD ANNUAL (70th ANNIVERSARY) AWARDS GALA 2017 | thecallsheet.co.uk". www.thecallsheet.co.uk. Retrieved 25 January 2017.
  43. ^ "Moët & Chandon Grand Scores 2017 | BASCA | British Academy of Songwriters Composers and Authors". Archived from the original on 17 October 2017. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  44. ^ Nugent, John (19 March 2017). "Three Empire Awards 2017: Rogue One, Tom Hiddleston And Patrick Stewart Win Big". Empire. Archived from the original on 23 September 2017.

External links[edit]