Tom Hiddleston plays the new resident of futuristic apartment block, who unwillingly becomes observer of a mini-society in meltdown, in Ben Wheatley’s savage and utterly brilliant satire of both 1960s social idealism and the Thatcherite values that undermined it.
Director Ben Wheatley (Sightseers, Kill List) and regular collaborator and screenwriter Amy Jump tear into JG Ballard’s classic source novel with gusto, boldly adopting the book's mid-1970s timeframe, in which Ballard’s brutalist building represents a pioneering beacon of modernism. Hiddleston is Dr Robert Laing, the occupant whose luxurious apartment’s lofty location places him among the upper echelons of the block’s clearly delineated social strata. He's immediately drawn into and seduced by the louche culture of nightly cocktail parties, where conversation always comes back to Royal (Jeremy Irons), the enigmatic architect who designed the building. However, as power outages become more frequent and building flaws emerge, particularly on the lower floors, the regimented social structures begins to crumble. Nihilism, drugs and alcohol feed into wanton sex and destruction, all underscored by Clint Mansell’s wicked music and Mark Tildesley’s designs – revelling in decadent 1970s chic. A long-time passion project for producer Jeremy Thomas, his faith in Wheatley has resulted in a glorious cacophony of excess.