Not Too Much Movie Review: High Life (2019)May 2, 2019
Director: Claire Denis
Stars: Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, André Benjamin
High Life is an unglamorous voyage through space. There is no wonder in being an astronaut here. It’s as cold and bleak as space itself. It’s the image of human bodies floating in nothingness. It’s dreary, drab muted colors. Yellow.
The story is similar to much of space travel science-fiction: supplies are limited and difficult choices need to be made. There’s the theme of isolation. Fragile sanity. The crew of death row inmates react violently to their situation. There’s quite a lot of rape. The whole thing is pretty grim and full of despair.
There are some moments of reprieve, like André Benjamin’s (André 3000) character digging his bare feet into the soil of the ship’s lush garden and Robert Pattinson’s character helping baby Willow learn to walk.
There’s a lot of weirdness in High Life too, mostly from everything Juliette Binoche’s character does. There’s an especially strange, but stylishly shot, sequence involving Binoche in what is referred to in the movie as the “fuck room”.
High Life is also very organic in its way—blood, dirt, semen, and hair all have their significance.
Although the pacing of the movie can be glacially slow at times—some could definitely say boring—there are quite a few compelling moments and images. The performances are uniformly good. Mia Goth is the standout. There seemed to be some interesting things happening in the film’s score by Stuart A. Staples of the band Tindersticks.
High Life ponders the struggles and sacrifices one must make to retain their humanity while being hurled into the unforgiving face of the unknown. In space, no one can hear you sigh.