High Life is an art-house film worth paying attention to, but I can't guarantee you'll love the experience.
One of the most polarising and intriguing films I've seen this year, it's a story filled with an overwhelming sense of hopelessness, cruelty, and is heavy on the metaphor - some obvious, some head-scratching.
The story explores how we deal with the idea of nothing; of finding yourself floating towards impending death on the edge of our solar system, with no hope, no chance of life. Yip, it's as cheery as it sounds.
High Life is the work of veteran French film-maker Claire Denis (Beau Travail, 35 Shots of Rum), and at age 73 this is the first time the director has made an English language film and used a Hollywood heartthrob in the lead role - in this case, Twilight star Robert Pattinson.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
Pattinson continues to make his mark in the art-house market and provides the perfect anchor with a warm and emotional performance in a largely sparse and grim sci-fi adventure. He plays Monte, who with his young baby daughter, Willow, is the last surviving member of a spacecraft heading to the outer reaches of our solar system on a suicide mission to harvest energy from a black hole.
The story unfolds in a non-linear way, flicking back and forward in time as we learn those on board were criminals who decided to "serve science" rather than sit on death row. The leader of their ship is Dr Dibs (Juliette Binoche), a fertility doctor obsessed with reproduction, who uses the crew as guinea pigs for experiments.
There are plenty of nods to other science fiction films, but there's something unique about Denis' approach. Story-wise she doesn't pander to the normal sci-fi tropes, and visually the spaceship is second rate - a prison which won't be returning home.
You really need to see High Life to take in the mix of despair and violence, set against the dream-like, poetic voyage. Denis once again confounds with her vision
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, Andre Benjamin,
Director: Claire Denis
Running Time: 110 mins
Rating: Rating: R16 (Violence, rape, sex scenes & offensive language)
Verdict: Teeters between nonsense and brilliance.