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Film Editorial

highlife19.jpg High Life

Director: Claire Denis

Stars: Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, Mia Goth, André Benjamin

Septuagenarian French writer-director Denis’ English language debut picture is a singularly strange but visually drab, and muddled, science fiction picture, its philosophical musings reaching for the profundity of ‘2001’ or ‘Solaris’. Pattinson is Monte, a criminal pressganged into being a reluctant astronaut. He and his baby daughter are the last survivors of a spaceship launched years earlier to conduct an experiment to extract energy from a Black Hole – the nature of the mission is outlined in a clumsy earth-set exposition dump half an hour in. The picture flashes back to show Monte’s fellow inmates/spacefarers, a motely bunch presided over by Dr. Dibbs (Binoche) a sinister scientist and ‘sperm shaman’ who extracts samples from the men with which she attempts to impregnate the female crew members/inmates. While all this may sound memorably unhinged, the picture is leaden-paced, chronologically confusing (albeit, probably deliberately) and thematically unfocused, with Denis merely lobbing ideas out there and hoping some will take. The languid performances and general subdued pacing are intermittently punctuated by moments of shrill bickering and nasty, calculatedly transgressive, violence.