Dr. Laing sees the blueprint and says it’s like “An unconscious diagram of some kind of psychic event”
Meet Dr. Robert Laing, a psychiatrist who has just moved into a luxury high rise experimental community building trying to start over and trying to find the place where he belongs in society. He’s a fluid man who sways and flirts with the tenants from different socioeconomic backgrounds. But they know better. The tumultuous and never ending argument between the tenants on the top floors versus the tenants on the lower floors does not deter him from the everyday and seemingly rigorous task of living his life. The architect is played by Jeremy Irons, a seemingly intelligent figure who reminds me of the Wizard of Oz. He’s the man behind the dream, the man who envisions and brings his idea of the perfect living environment to life but like the Wizard, once the curtain is pulled you find out he has no real idea of how to really construct a full functioning and decent habitat for the different social classes.
I didn’t see much difference within the social classes that resided in the high rise. To me they were both barbaric, heathens, selfish, and greedy in their own ways. They had their own agendas. The building itself didn’t seem like the type of place you would consider a luxurious place you’d want to start over. It was drab and gray with high balcony walls that didn’t offer a picturesque view at all, almost prison-like. Reminds me of living conditions in our society. Gates and bars to keep the riff raff out. Gates and bars to imprison ourselves. But in this case the riff raff resided behind the walls. The tenants were sheltered from the outside against the very ugly things that hid within them all along.
Dr. Laing couldn’t find it in himself to settle down because he wasn’t really home. He wasn’t comfortable. There were too many life expectations. Boxes remained unpacked. He couldn’t decide on a paint colour. He was an outsider gathering mental commentary on the different people and groups he spent time with only to experience madness in his day to day grind.The use of metaphors was so delightful and intriguing. We are given a vision of fruit rotting as the architect explains how certain things about his building are falling apart or settling in. All unravels, as the architect becomes unhinged. His marriage falls apart, his building, the quality of life for his tenants. He even states that, “I am the architect of my own accident”. There is also the theme of going over the edge. There are some important scenes that take place on the balcony and in the movie they are recurring.
There is violence, lust, voyeurism, celebration, and death. There is a thin line between being civil vs going over the edge. But for how many? It forced me to ask the question, under what circumstances would I break? Would I riot? Would I hurt an innocent? Would I steal? This film would be a perfect topic of discussion for a sociology or psychology class. Are we all susceptible to being stripped down to our inner most animalistic urges? According to Freud and Pavlov it depends on the psyche. According to me, it’s all a matter of our environment, psyche, and influences all mixed up together creating a concoction of who we really are. But do we really have control over what or who we really want or aim to be? Dr. Laing had a career. He made money. He was handsome. He got sex. He had what he needed but he still had desires that weren’t being met, and it drove him mad. At the end of the movie when all those things were stripped from him and he didn’t have a social class to gravel to he was at peace.