Monte and his baby daughter are the last survivors of a damned and dangerous mission to deep space. The crew—death-row inmates led by a doctor with sinister motives—has vanished. As the mystery of what happened onboard the ship is unraveled, father and daughter must rely on each other to survive.
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Uncompromising and enigmatic, High Life relinquishes nothing of the philosophical and visual force, the difficulty and seductiveness, that have made Denis’s films among the most compelling of contemporary cinema.
Challenging, naturalistic and avoiding any mythopoeia or religious parable in its depiction of space travel as alienation, High Life is a grimy, grotesque oddity from a director who's good at that sort of thing. Pattinson adopts a monkish pose amid depraved sexual experiments, his forcibly delivered child being his only connection to a dwindling humanity. Horrible, beautiful, bleak (yet also hopeful) all at once.
This was the turn for Claire Denis to gift us with this Sci Fy masterpiece. The film really takes you there, beyond the solar system, in a spaceship, next to a black hole. The narrative explains why those people are there, but without resorting to many details. It leaves you in some sort of blank space, as the universe itself. Sex and violence in outerspace, depicted in a brutal and beautiful way.
The one theme - and I mean the whole organizing principle of every relationship, the source of all the profundity people are describing - is the incest taboo. Ta-boo. Ta-boo. I swear that is not reductive: its a metaphor for your love of your own detritus, for a society that needs its rejects to sustain biopower. Stunning to look at. Binoche's hair-phallus confirms that Denis is a pervert for the ages.
What I think distinguishes Denis' form is its combination of rigour and fluidity. Agnès Godard, her regular DP and ultimate collaborator, was not available for HIGH LIFE, but Yorick Le Saux has stepped in w/ gumption. I associate w/ co-scenarist Jean-Pol Fargeau an oceanic quality, shades of Virginia Woolf -- transversal connections and movements, heave and free-float. Perhaps the cosmos itself is a kind of ocean.
Rape, terror, and death at the edge of a blackhole. I may be betraying my unfamiliarity with director Claire Denis' body of work, but I can quite easily connect "Trouble Every Day's" interpretation of a 21st century Nosferatu in Vincent Gallo to Juliette Binoche's insemination-obsessed Dr. Frankenstein in "High Life." The difference here is that "High Life" ends with some semblance of hope—or maybe just oblivion.
Claire Denis delivers another visually stunning and thought provoking film that needs multiple viewings to truly appreciate the greatness of this film. Pattinson delivers another intricate and intense performance and the look of the film feels like Solaris meets Alien. More proof that Denis is one of the greatest filmmakers of all time.