High Life

High Life

In Theatres: 
Apr 12, 2019
Running Time: 
110 minutes

My initial thoughts after seeing Claire Denis’ High Life were ones of curiosity and confusion. It’s storytelling structure is complex so I wasn’t quite sure what I just watched, and yet there’s enough there to get you wanting to know more about its deep message on life and humanity. High Life shoots for the stars with its themes, but I never could get a grasp on the entire picture until the very end and by that time it was to late.


A group of criminals who are serving life sentences have volunteered to be part of a space program researching alternative energy resources on a one way trip towards a black hole. The entire expedition is being run by Dr. Dibbs (Juliette Binoche), who is also performing her own tests regarding fertility in space using the inmates as her subjects. As one would expect, conflicts arise and it isn’t long before Monte (Robert Pattinson) and a baby girl named Willow are the only two left aboard the ship, doing all that they can to survive.


High Life actually opens with Monte performing repairs on the ship while Willow watches a monitor from her makeshift playpen. They’re the only two aboard the ship, and it’s quickly made clear that it’s been like that for quite some time. The film then jumps around in time, introducing the rest of the criminal crew and showing how it slowly diminished to only two. It’s a bit confusing especially since you initially don’t know who any of these characters are or what they’re doing. It’s like you’re being given random puzzle pieces with no clue as to what the bigger picture is and only after you’ve collected enough of them do you start to see what it’s supposed to be. A good portion of the film you’re in dark as to what’s going on with the hope that it will guide you in the right direction.


What I did enjoy about the film were its visuals and sound design. The space and sci-fi themes have an old-school nostalgic aura around them. It’s simplistic yet futuristic at the same time. Almost the entire film takes place in space on the ship, but you never feel confined or bored by its minimal design. Even though I was confused by its story, I still found myself staring in awe at what was being presented on screen.


High Life is the kind of film that even though I didn’t like as much as I wanted to, I still respect what it was trying to achieve. There’s a lot it has to say, although I feel like most of it went flying right over my head. It’s a film that you have to be in the right mindset to watch. Claire Denis has never been one to do a simple, straightforward film, and High Life is no exception.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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