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Living the high life... film shot in Belfast ferry terminal premiered at Toronto Festival

By Staff Reporter

Published 15/09/2015

Actors Luke Evans, Eiisabeth Moss, Tom Hiddleston and Jeremy Irons share a joke at the premiere for High-Rise at the Elgin Theatre during the Toronto International Film Festival
Actors Luke Evans, Eiisabeth Moss, Tom Hiddleston and Jeremy Irons share a joke at the premiere for High-Rise at the Elgin Theatre during the Toronto International Film Festival
Tom Hiddleston takes selfies for fans outside the Elgin Theatre in Toronto International Film Festival
The actors relax during filming in Northern Ireland
The actors relax during filming in Northern Ireland

A major film shot in Belfast's former Stena ferry terminal received its world première last night at the Toronto Film Festival in Canada.

High Rise, directed by British enfant terrible Ben Wheatley, and starring Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons and Sienna Miller, is based on the 1975 dystopian novel by JG Ballard.

The film follows a young, respectable doctor, Robert Laing -played by Hiddleston, also appearing at the Festival in I Saw the Light - who moves into a luxury apartment seeking anonymity. The building, a Brutalist concrete tower block, is inhabited by eccentric tenants who let off steam in endless rounds of themed parties and raucous, drink-and-drug-fuelled orgies.

Sitting at the top of this insular society is the building's architect and owner, Mr Royal (Irons), whose penthouse beggars description and has nothing to do with the rest of his design.

As Robert settles into his new abode, the tower and its social complexities begin to take over his life.

Filming at Ballast Quay in the docks area of Belfast led to the transformation of the former Stena terminal into sets including a lobby, penthouse suite and roof-top garden. Parts of the film were also shot in Bangor, Co Down.

Initial reviews were not uniformly positive. Variety critic Peter Bruge called it "a flashy and frequently incoherent adaptation of JG Ballard's towering 1975 social critique," while Indiewire's Eric Kohn said: "High-Rise isn't an entirely cohesive accomplishment, but that's part of its zany appeal."

But Mark Olsen of the LA Times was upbeat: "Toronto's historic Elgin Theatre was hit like a stun-gun by the film's ferocious, unrelenting energy," he said .

High Rise is set to receive its European premiere at the prestigious San Sebastian Fim Festival later this month.

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