Entertainment » Movies

High Life

by Sam Cohen
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Jul 9, 2019
High Life

To talk about any of Claire Denis' works is to invite chaos into your own writing. The French director has proved over the course of her career that her films often elide easy conclusions in return for narratives that never start from Point A and move naturally to Point B. They go off in tangents and arrive at conclusions that rarely wrap up her stories into something complete, or complete in the classic sense.

That's only one of the reasons why her works are held in such high regard, and her newest, "High Life," is no exception to the praise. It's an intoxicatingly beautiful look at human nature in the vacuum of space. Leave it to one of the best independent filmmakers to ever live to breathe new life into the sci-fi genre, I guess.

Monte (Robert Pattinson) is a member of a group of criminals sent on a suicide mission in space to discover if the rotational energy of black holes can be turned into a renewable energy source for a dying Earth. The leader of the group, a doctor named Dibs (Juliette Binoche), is less obsessed with that objective and more obsessed with trying to get the other female inmates pregnant. The story starts in the future, where Monte is seen living in isolation on the ship with his young daughter named Willow (Jessie Ross), and flashes back to the past at multiple junctures to show how Monte ended up being one of the last survivors of Dibs' experiments.

As in classic Denis fashion, the narrative is elliptical, quickly vacillating between the past, the present, and everything in between. Denis doesn't seem to care as much about the dying Earth as she does about the group of inmates floating through space towards inevitable doom, because that's where the dark recesses of human nature start to rear their ugly heads. "High Life" is as much about the space in the human mind as it is the physical space the human race has only just start to grapple with outside of Earth's orbit. And, again, as is Denis' wont, everything is rendered beautifully, with shocking moments of violence that'll sit with you far past when the end credits roll.

Now available on Blu-ray from Lionsgate and A24 Films, "High Life" should be played loud, as the score by Tindersticks' lead singer Stuart Staples is both propulsive and ambient in nature. As for the special features, there are a couple of decent featurettes with interviews from the cast and crew as they try to break down Denis' filmmaking process and her approach to storytelling in general. Stick around for a very funny interview with André Benjamin talking about the sexual depravity on display in "High Life." Special features include:

• "Audacious, Passionate, and Dangerous: Making "High Life""
• "Visualizing the Abyss: The Look of "High Life""

"High Life"
Lionsgate & A24 Films Blu-ray


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