2019 Film Reviews – 31: High Life [dir. Claire Denis; 2018]

There’s a great deal I could write about Claire Denis’ first English-language film, but the one-para rule must be obeyed, so suffice it to say that High Life effortlessly earns a place in the canon of thoughtful, elliptical sci-fi movies such as 2001, Solaris and Blade-Runner. Aside from some almost laughably clunky exposition at the start, this dreamy, fecund presentation of life on a spaceship populated by hardened convicts hits all the right notes of skin-crawling horror and symbol-heavy allegory. Not so much sci-if as it is an elemental fairy tale that happens to be set amongst the stars, it pushes buttons and poses questions in almost every frame, presenting more than its fair share of striking – maybe even unprecedented – images in an attempt to get to grips with fundamental questions about what sustains relationships and life itself. Gripping, unforgettable stuff, with a nuanced central performance by Robert Pattinson and a mesmerising turn from Juliette Binoche as a sort of cosmic high priestess of sensuality.
Dariush

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