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High-Rise 

Wednesday, May 11 2016
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The first sentence of J.G. Ballard's 1975 novel High-Rise involves the protagonist cooking a dog on his apartment balcony, and it's a good sign that Ben Wheatley's film adaption doesn't pull that particular punch. Doggy-diner Laing (Tom Hiddleston) reflects on the past three months, as the residents of a shiny new high-rise building designed by reclusive architect Mr. Royal (Jeremy Irons) and ravaged by power outages and food shortages began devolving into both metaphorical and literal class wars, cutting themselves off from both the outside world and from their own humanity. High-Rise is as much of an allegory about class as Snowpiercer, and not to be taken literally or deconstructed for plot holes. Indeed, one of the two very smart things that the film does is to keep the original 1975 setting, as the story would have been altered far too much to be set in the digital age. The other smart thing was, even with a movie star like Hiddleston, to resist the urge to make Laing anything resembling a hero. He's ultimately a passive observer of this breakdown of society, giving in to the violence and madness rather than seeking to escape or stop it, a decision we might make as well. Or, to paraphrase Walt Kelly: We have met the enemy, and they is us.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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