“High-Rise” is an intense and dark satire about societal living, set inside a towering building that contains not only condos but stores, schools and other amenities designed to make the whole thing self sustaining, a tower which has an unforeseen effect on its many inhabitants. Remarking on the class issues that permeate almost every society but of which the British are seemingly much more acutely aware and critical, and also serving as a commentary on the societal forces that keep us from devolving into tribe-based groups of marauders and murderers, this movie uses sex, violence and comedy to show us a world which we are seemingly constantly on the brink of becoming.
Dr. Laing (Tom Hiddleston) moves in to a newly built high-rise, a luxury building that is hi-tech and on the cutting edge, and he only has to leave the building to go to work. He meets some of his neighbors and the building’s architect Royal (Jeremy Irons) and he learns quickly that the people on the very top floors live a little more comfortably than the folks who make less money and live on the lower floors. As The Architect, Royal promised everyone a building that would give them a better way to live, a newly realized community of people that will engender real change in the way people behave. But when Royal thought this was going to be a positive change, it turned out to be quite negative. Things like power outages throughout the building and a poorly stocked supermarket start to get to the inhabitants, and they become more rowdy, angrier at the situation and each other, and smoothly enough the people in the building stop going out and stay inside and stay in their groups and start fighting each other. Before it is all said and done, the whole building has descended into squalor and chaos, with the poorer folks trying to get to the top of the building, and the few people already at the top indulging in pure debauchery on every conceivable level.