DVD Rating: ***1/2

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Read Andrew Robertson's film review of High-Rise
Tom Hiddleston in High-Rise
"" | Photo: Courtesy of San Sebastian Film Festival

This DVD release from Studiocanal is well-furnished with extras. Chief among them is a commentary track with director Ben Wheatley (curiously absent from the additional interviews on the disc), producer Jeremy Thomas and star Tom Hiddleston (Dr Laing). This gets off to a slow start, with far too much time spent on Thomas' initial meeting with Wheatley and, initially, Thomas dominates and leads the conversation too much, often cutting things off just as they are about to get interesting.

As the track progresses, however, Hiddleston begins to come to the fore, displaying a fierce intelligence that reminds you he got a double-first in Classics from Cambridge University. Thankfully, he's no show-off, merely erudite and thoughful, carefully steering the conversation into more intellectual, Ballardian discussion, while not being above having a laugh about the day he chipped his tooth while shooting a brawl scene.

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Wheatley hovers neatly between the two, happy to discuss motivations and his own additions to his wife Amy Jump's script, while also offering some fun background snippets, such as the fact they could only afford to construct half a dog corpse.

His recollections of "the orgy stuff" are particularly amusing as he notes that due to Game Of Thrones: "The cost of naked people in Northern Ireland was high so we hired a local swingers group." It's definitely worth battling past the first 15 minutes or so until the lads hit their stride.

Hiddleston offers more insight in the longest of the cast interviews here (25 minutes), doing that rarest of DVD extra things and genuinely engaging fully with the questions, despite the fact some of them are rather trite and all are repeated with each actor in turn, where some variation on a theme would have been welcome. He talks about Wheatley's "intense rigour" and displays an almost Shakesperean turn of phrase ("Chaos is nearer at hand than we like to perceive) thankfully leavened by the fact that one of his childhood dreams was to "throw around paint like Jackson Pollock on speed".

Luke Evans - whose distilled animalistic performance is the standout aspect of the film - also offers some good insights in his 17-minute chat. His focus is less on Ballard than on developing character, talking about taking inspiration from hellraiser Oliver Reed.

Jeremy Irons also offers a measured thoughtfulnes, with his interview giving an insight into working on an independent British film - "invigorating" - and with Wheatley, who has "no apparent ego". He also ventures some interesting observations about the contrast between city and rural living.

Sienna Miller's interview is by far the weakest - a fact further underscored by its five-minute brevity, sadly little more than a traditional electronic presskit take on proceedings.

The extras are completed by a three-minute promotional film entitled Bringing Ballard To The Big Screen. The soundbites from the cast and crew are all fine - although the inclusion of writers Ned Beauman and Travis Elborough is incongruous - and the behind-the-scenes footage is intriguing. Given the ingenuity of the production staff - dressing and redressing the same set to represent each character's apartment - more of this sort of footage and the general 'craft' of the film would have been very welcome. Completists may wish to opt for the Blu-ray release, which includes additional crew interviews and a JG Ballard featurette.

Reviewed on: 19 Jul 2016
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High-Rise packshot
Class war breaks out in a tower block.
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Product Code: OPTD2924

Region: 2

Ratio: 16:9

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1

Extras: Commentary track, cast interviews, Bringing Ballard To The Big Screen

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