Rising High review – a sociopath scams the property market

Peter Bradshaw
·2-min read

This breezy, sleazy comedy-thriller from Germany has as its original title Betonrausch: literally, concrete-drunk or concrete-crazy – the state of ecstasy induced by speculating in the housing market and making money apparently out of nothing and nowhere. The star is David Kross, who played the seduced boy opposite Kate Winslet in The Reader and Manchester City’s famous injured footballer Bert Trautmann in recent film The Keeper.

Kross plays Viktor, a penniless but personable young guy who is haunted by the memory of his dad going broke through debts to the taxman. With the help of his reckless buddy Gerry (Frederick Lau), and Gerry’s unscrupulous schoolfriend Nicole (Janina Uhse), who works in a bank, Viktor figures out a way to scam the Berlin property market. He will buy derelict flats at auction and sell them on, illegally, in the 10-day grace period before the debt becomes due, to people to whom Nicole (also illegally) can offer cheap mortgages. Inevitably, they become very rich, very quickly. Viktor and Nicole get married, and there are the traditional slo-mo party montages of champagne, cocaine, sex workers and generally letting the good times roll.

As the law begins to catch up with them, Viktor doubles down on the problem by borrowing more and more, and eventually establishes his own private bank in Malta. It’s a bit like a Brit geezer-caper film in some ways, and, like so many of those, sounds as though it is based on a hundred urban myths and friend-of-a-friend anecdotes. What makes it more than just that is Kross, whose face is getting more interesting as he ages. With his close-set eyes and chiselled jawline, there is something faintly sociopathic about his boyish good looks. He is rather good at suggesting the specious charm and compulsive behaviour of the addict. The film’s plausibility-level isn’t perhaps as high as all that (it really works best as a period piece from the pre-2008 crash) but Kross brings to it a jaded, corrupted glamour.

Rising High is available on Netflix on 17 April.