Charting the rise and fall of three corrupt real estate agents who accumulate absurd wealth in no time but fall into a vortex of fraud, greed and drugs.
Movie Rated: 18+ (Language, Sex, Nudity, Substance)
What’s the story about?
Riding High, directed by Cüneyt Kaya, follows the lives of two real-estate agents in Berlin, who would do anything to make big money, and how their lives come crashing down when their fraud is exposed. The film, starring David Kross, Frederick Lau, Janina Uhse, begins with a journalist interviewing Viktor (David Kross), who has been arrested for committing fraud, and he tells her about how he came to Berlin, teamed up with his partner Gerry (Frederick Lau), got married to Nicole (Janina Uhse), and slowly climbed up the ladder to become a rich real estate agent through illegal means.
David Kross, best known for his work in The Reader and The Keeper, is enigmatic as Viktor in the film. The entire drama surrounding his dramatic rise makes for an easy watch, and David Kross breathes life into his character, which always makes you question about how morally ambigious is he. On one hand, Victor wants to do the right thing as far as his family is concerned; however, he’s so caught in the web of lies that he seems to be making one mistake after another. David Kross captures this dichotomy of Viktor quite well, and he’s ably supported by Frederick Lau, who plays Gerry. The film’s other lead actor, Janina Uhse is a revelation. When you first see Nicole, she comes across as no more than a wilful participant in the fraud that Viktor and Gerry are about to commit; however, as time goes by, we also see Nicole as a responsible parent, who wants to take care of her baby and be on the right side of the law. Janina captures this sharp contrast in her character’s progression quite well, and she leaves a long-lasting impression.
As a film and narrative style, Rising High (Betonrausch) is in the same territory of Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf Of Wall Street, in the sense that both the films focus on individuals committing large-scale fraud to climb up the social ladder. However, Rising High doesn’t quite raise the bar after a certain point. The moment Viktor and Gerry become rich, it also feels like Rising High hit a ceiling because there are no fresh ideas or dramatic twists to keep the narrative engaging. It’s also surprising that neither of them faces any major hurdles with law enforcement for all the illegal activities they had been indulging in. While the story and the narrative is quite fun until about mid-point, it’s the third act that leaves you underwhelmed that Rising High didn’t quite hit the bull’s eye. The major problem with the story is that it lacks a knock-out punch that you hope to see right from the moment Viktor and Gerry start to manipulate the system.
The film’s lead actor, David Kross, Frederick Lau, Janina Uhse, deliver strong performances which keep the proceedings going, even if the story doesn’t seem engaging enough. And to give credit where credit is due, Cüneyt Kaya begins the story with a bang which makes you root for the characters instantly.
The film runs out of its momentum and ideas after a point, and the final act is a bit of a drag. Moreover, it never feels like the lead character, Viktor is under threat of being caught red-handed or if his guilt will ever catch up with him.
Do I recommend it?
Rising High is a breezy watch if you are looking for a light-hearted comedy-drama. However, if you are looking for something deep and meaningful, you can skip this one.