The very idea of combining the warped, genre-bending minds of J.G. Ballard and Ben Wheatley is enough to make us pay attention to any movie. The fact that Wheatley’s adaptation of Ballard’s contained dystopia High-Rise is putting together one hell of a fantastic cast is just icing on the cake. Though given the parties involved, this isn’t a cake you’d want to eat. After recently adding Tom Hiddleston (Thor, Only Lovers Left Alive), Jeremy Irons and Sienna Miller have both joined the fray.
Based on Ballard’s 1975 novel, the story revolves around a newly erected, self-contained residential building. The structure is designed as a revolutionary model of living, where every basic need is satisfied in one key location. You can shop, socialize, and live all without leaving the building. This environment is, intentionally, its own separate microcosm of society, and, designed as a modern utopia, problems quickly arise despite the surface level normalcy. What begins as minor class squabbles and disagreements eventually erupts into full-scale open warfare between the residents who are divided into three distinct groups depending on what floor they live on. Full of Ballard’s trademark biting satire, High-Rise is as prescient today as it was on the eve of Margaret Thatcher’s rise to power.
Screen Daily reports that Irons will play Anthony Royal, the visionary architect of the tower who also happens to dwell on the top floor and roam around in a stark white safari outfit. He befriends protagonist Robert Laing (Hiddleston), a young, middle-class doctor moving up in the world. Miller will fill the role of Charlotte, Royal’s loyal, devoted assistant.
Here’s what Wheatley has to say about the new additions to the cast:
I’ve been a fan of Sienna’s since seeing her heartbreaking role in Factory Girl. There’s a steely resilience in her performances, and I know she will be excellent in her central role in High-Rise…What can you say about Jeremy Irons? From Dead Ringers to Margin Call, Jeremy has been creating indelible performances. He’s one of our finest actors and it’s very exciting to work with him.
High-Rise feels like a perfect vehicle for Wheatley’s dark sensibilities. Most known for films like the genre mash-up Kill List and A Field in England, the director has a knack for finding the twisted and sinister in the seemingly mundane and everyday. His 2012 black comedy Sightseers is a prime example of this. Two strange, meek individuals go on a holiday that quickly devolves into a violent murder spree. Ballard’s novel is full of this sort of thing, that twisted, volatile layer that lurks beneath the surface, and he unveils it with sharp-tongued, surgical precision. Every relationship, every interaction, is just a single slip away from turning into something much more menacing.
Wheatley also recently helmed two episodes of Doctor Who, the first two in the reign of new Time Lord Peter Capaldi. Given what we know of the director, as well as the promises that this is going to be a much darker incarnation of the Doctor, these should definitely be something to behold when season eight of the long-running BBC adventure airs later this year.
High-Rise is schedule to begin filming in July in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Additional casting is underway, and we’ll keep you up to date on any significant news.