Director: Claire Denis
Writer: Claire Denis, Jean-Pol Fargeau, Geoff Cox, Andrew Litvack, Nick Laird
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, André 3000, Mia Goth, Agata Buzek, Lars Eidinger, Claire Tran, Ewan Mitchell, Gloria Obianyo, Scarlett Lindsey, Jessie Ross, Victor Banerjee
Seen on: 23.10.2022
Content Note: rape, forced pregnancy
Monte (Robert Pattinson) is alone on a spaceship with his daughter Willow (Scarlett Lindsey, later: Jessie Ross) who was born on board. As they hurtle through space, Monte has to make consistent reports, although it is unclear whether anybody will ever get to hear them – they are that far from any other humans. But there is a destination and a reason why it is Monte who is on this journey.
High Life is the kind of film that fans of Kubrick will love. I am not one of those people and I struggled with it.
High Life is excellently made, don’t get me wrong. Unfolding at a slow pace and through many flashbacks, it gives us an idea of how Monte ended up where he is and how come he is alone with Willow. The story is full of violence and all about taking choices away from people. A harsh topic that the film explores in an allegorical way, and yet very directly. It is definitely a film that can be discussed at length.
It is also beautifully filmed and excellently acted, proving Denis is a filmmaker at the top of her game who knows what she is doing. It’s evocative of older sci-fi films, but also very modern. So, really, that the film didn’t work for me is not a sign of low quality. It is more a matter of taste. And it’s just not to my taste.
I really mean it when I say that if you like Kubrick and/or Tarkovsky, this is a film you should absolutely watch. But if you, like me, don’t really connect with the films of these filmmakers, then you’ll probably struggle with it like I did. I just never got into the rhythm of the film, and even though I find its theme of consent and choice extremely engaging and important, it never presented it in an angle that hooked me.
And so I watched the film pretty much as dispassionately as the camera watches Monte and Willow, occasionally scratching my head at plot developments (but the plot is not to be taken too literal anyway), but otherwise unengaged. Without the emotional side of it, the film remains kind of cerebral and distant – and that is just not my thing.
Summarizing: not for me, but it’s definitely not bad at all.