The year is 1975. Dr. Robert Laing (played by Tom Hiddleston) moves into his new high-rise apartment seeking escape and anonymity, only to find that the building’s residents have no intention of leaving him alone.
J.G. Ballard is widely regarded as one of the most significant writers of the 20th century. Through the 1960s and 1970s Ballard emerged as one of the key figures of New Wave Science Fiction, and as the title 'High-Rise' suggests, his work became synonymous with dystopian visions of modernity, bleak urban landscapes and the social interaction of those who dwell and work within them.
British director, Ben Wheatley (pictured below on an opulent mid-century looking set with producer Jeremy Thomas) has set out to make a respectful interpretation of Ballard's novel 'High-Rise', and the result looks set to be a stunning piece of cinema. Drawing inspiration not only from Ballard's modern classic, but also basking in the brutalist architecture, popular fashion and era defining visual aesthetic that came in the wake of modernism as the 20th century entered the latter third of its years.
An impressive list of British talent plays Dr. Laing's diverse selection of neighbours. They include single mum Charlotte (played by Sienna Miller - pictured below), filmmaker Wilder (Luke Evans), the building's architect Anthony Royal (Jeremy Irons), Ann Royal the architect's wife (Keeley Hawes) and Charlotte's son Toby (Louis Suc - also pictured below amidst the TV aerials).
As one might expect from a project of such ambition, the soundtrack too comes from some great British names. Pop Will Eat Itself frontman turned composer Clint Mansell, well known for his soundtrack work with Darren Aronofsky and his score for Duncan Jones' 'Moon', has added his signature dark soundscape to the world of High-Rise.
Talking about his involvement Mansell explains "I grew up in the West Midlands in the 70s, buildings like Birmingham’s Rotunda captured both a dystopian future and a bleak present. Add the collage cut ups of Linder Sterling, a soundtrack supplied by Bowie’s ‘Low’, Siouxsie & The Banshees ‘The Scream’, Joy Division ‘Unknown Pleasures’ and it was nigh on impossible not to feel we were the children of JG Ballard & RD Laing, or, indeed, Dr Robert Laing."
As well as Clint Mansell's score, Portishead also contribute a song to the soundtrack in the form of a cover of ABBA's 'SOS' - the original a hit in the same year that Ballard's book was released, 1975. The reimagined track is a clever way of adding dimension to a version of the 1970s that thankfully, arguably, still remains an alternative history.
Following a UK preview tour High-Rise will get a mainstream UK cinema release on Friday 18th March.