We really need to talk about High-Rise, you guys. And not just because I think it's secretly the most genius film of 2016. (It totally is, by the way. I still can't stop thinking about it, and I saw it weeks ago.) We need to talk about the film because we have to discuss that opening scene. You know, the one where Tom Hiddleston's High-Rise character eats a dog? Yeah, that one. If you haven't yet seen the film, you might be surprised to hear is that it's not even the weirdest thing that happens in the movie. You might also be interested to know that Tom Hiddleston's power is so great that the High-Rise director tells Bustle at the Tribeca Film Festival that he isn't even worried about Hiddleston's fans' reaction to the dog scene.
It's quite a choice to open a movie with a beloved actor feasting on man's best friend, but director Ben Wheatley did it, and he did it well. He did the whole movie well, honestly. It needs to win 900 Oscars, starting with one for sound mixing or editing or whatever that category is. It's one of those movies that your teacher makes you watch and analyze in school, so there's a lot to unpack. (Also, if any teacher plans on doing that, send the essays my way. I'm dying to read them).
[Minor spoilers ahead.] The movie is about an apartment building that quickly descends into chaos when the lower floors begin to revolt against the class system that favors the upper floors. After pretty much everything but the exterior of the building is destroyed, Hiddleston is one of the few survivors left — hence the need to feast on a dog. The film opens with this strange scene and then backs up to (kinda) explain how things ended up that way. Upon first watching the movie I was annoyed that they didn't show the progression from normal apartment complex to murderous chaos more.
But, then I realized it's probably showing how people are easily lulled into believing things are fine when they happen slowly, and you don't even notice that things are insane until they're REALLY insane and it's too late to fix the situation. The movie left me wondering what my own High-Rise situation might be. What in my life do I think is OK now but might wake up months or years from now and find out it's terrible? (I don't know, OK? The movie made me do a lot of thinking.)
Anyway, when I heard about the dog scene before seeing the movie, I was very worried. I love dogs more than I love really anything else. So, when I learned that my favorite actor would be EATING one, it was enough to make me not want to see the movie at all. But, I persevered because it's fiction, because it's my job, but mostly because it's Tom Hiddleston.
Turns out him eating a dog (in a scene that's not that graphic, surprisingly), didn't put me off loving him, and Wheatley isn't worried about other fans either. "Hiddleston fans are a hardy bunch who have watched all sorts of interesting films that he's been involved in over the last few years," he says. "I don't fear for them."
We are a hardy bunch, that's true. You have to be to survive the Hiddleston droughts where he'll go months without tweeting anything, or to survive the Hiddleston floods where he'll overwhelm you (in the best way) with a bunch of photoshoots, movie trailers, etc. all at once. And, being hardy comes in handy when you have to survive watching Hiddleston befriend a dog only to roast it on a spit moments later.
Fortunately, Hiddleston tells reporters at the festival that a lot of his fans picked up the book ahead of the release (or perhaps they listened to Hiddleston narrate the audio version). So, they might have known what was coming, considering it's the opening of the book as well. "It is satisfying when people tell you they didn't know about [author] J. G. Ballard, they didn't know about High-Rise and then when I was attached to the project, they read it," the actor says.
That's the power of Hiddleston, folks. Not even making a meal of a dog is going to keep his fans away.
Images: hiddleston-daily (2)/Tumblr