Film Review – High Life (2018)

Title – High Life (2018)

Director – Claire Denis (Let the Sunshine In)

Cast – Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, Mia Goth, Andre Benjamin

Plot – Living in isolation, young single father Monte (Pattinson) must look after his baby daughter as the two traverse the unknowns of space in a mysterious spacecraft that Monte has been living on for a number of years.

“She’s mine. I’m hers”

Review by Eddie on 30/05/2019

If you’ve watched the trailer or read the synopsis for High Life, the new film from highly regarded yet low-key filmmaker Claire Denis, and think that what you’re getting is a story about a father and his daughter trying to survive life in deep space aboard a mysterious vessel, then you’re in for a mighty big shock.

While Denis’s ponderous event film certainly does feature large portions of its rudiment focused on Robert Pattinson’s Monte trying to take care of his space vessel and his young daughter Willow, High Life is most certainly not the film it may first appear to be thanks to Denis’s wild vision that looks to tackle some of the big existential questions about life, love, procreation and survival under the guise of a cerebral science fiction experience.

It all starts off relatively straightforward and intriguing, as with very little background or set-up we are introduced to Monte and his odd existence on an unnamed spacecraft, traversing the great unknown with his baby daughter in toe, tending to a greenhouse and reporting back to a source on their progress to maintain a life supply system but despite the films strong opening act that includes some arresting visuals and mood setting, High Life quickly takes a turn towards the bizarre as Denis’s true motivations for her film become more apparent.

Don’t expect to know about why many things in High Life happen, as this is not a part of the apparent nature of Denis’s film, but suffice to say viewers will be shocked and perhaps even traumatized by what they will witness in this downright grimy and grungy cinematic experience that will most surely make you feel like taking a cold shower at the conclusion of its credits.

Joined by supports that includes Andrew Benjamin, Mia Goth and a very game Juliette Binoche, High Life is a downright odd and confusing affair that includes a room with a very adult orientated toy, shocking acts of violence and an occasional splash of visual brilliance as Pattinson (whose post Twilight career continues to surprise) holds his head above water and anchors the film around him in what is an times intriguing film that’s too cold and bizarre for its own good.

There will be those that love Denis’s unique vision for the space-set genre and the questions she is possibly (or quite possibly not) asking about mankind and our desires/wants but with a cast of characters we never build a firm affirmation for, an abundance of questionable and barely explained character decisions and a general sense of lethargy present in most of the film, many will find High Life anything but the experience they were chasing after.

Final Say –

Head into High Life expecting it to be the film it appears to be and you will walk away sorely disappointed but head into it expecting it to be a wild head-trip doesn’t make it much better. An often nasty, irksome and sometimes daring feature, High Life is a unique ride that fails to justify its confusing and hard to understand motivations.

1 ½ space dog out of 5

6 responses to “Film Review – High Life (2018)

  1. I thought very much along the same lines – it’s sci-fi for the hardcore 2001 fan while everyone else is left in its space dust!

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