High Life is Claire Denis’ first English-language film. It stars Robert Pattinson as Monte, a convict serving his death sentence on a ship out in deep space. This is an incredibly out there science-fiction film, that is certainly one of the most unique cinematic experiences of the year.
The film open up with Monte alone on the ship except for a baby, named Willow. After seeing his attempts to keep the ship going we flash back to see the interactions between the crew, and what led Pattinson to be on his own. Ultimately High Life examines some of the darkest parts of humanity, as the crew is subjected to sexual experiments by Juliette Binoche’s Dr. Dib, and slowly turn on one another. It also touches on themes like reproduction, the morality of incarceration, and the exploration of scientific phenomenon like Black Holes.
I don’t mind that High Life doesn’t really offer much explanation or answers for the mysteries or questions that it creates, but it touches on so many themes without really having too much to say about them, it is hard to really know what Denis wants people to take from High Life. But that said there is a lot to like in High Life.
The atmosphere that Denis creates is one of dread for the majority of the film, she tells us where the bulk of the film is going, and we can do nothing but follow as the horror unfolds. Binoche is exceptional in the film, and Pattinson puts in another great and nuanced performance in a fascinating and original film.
Whilst I didn’t love everything about High Life there’s enough there to keep you gripped, even if it doesn’t completely deliver on everything it touches on. Denis’ direction is great, as are the performances, and it certainly won’t feel like a stale or unoriginal experience for you.