Monte (Robert Pattinson) is one of several criminals sentenced to life in space. Sent to investigate a black hole, he and his crew are routinely milked by obsessive Dr Dibs (Juliette Binoche), who is consumed with creating a child in space through artificial insemination. However, the closer they get to the black hole, the more things start to unravel…
… High Life’ is the science fiction horror movie you’ve been waiting for.
‘High Life’ is the science fiction horror movie you’ve been waiting for. If like me, you were enthralled by the gritty, blue-collar squabbling of Ridley’s Scott’s crew in ‘Alien‘, the thoughtfulness of Andrei Tarkovsky’s ‘Solaris‘ and the gothic claret of Paul W. S. Anderson’s ‘Event Horizon‘, then Claire Denis’s ‘High Life’ is something your eyes should dock with.
Mired in the mundanity that made Alien so real and shaded by the surreal inflexions of ‘Suspiria‘, this is a showcase that doesn’t show its hand too early. Employing a fractured narrative, the strands of past tragedy and future regret swirl around the central character of Monte and played by Robert Pattinson. And you’d have to say that with which film you see him, as an actor he just impresses more and more and more…
Yet this isn’t a one-sided affair. Cast opposite him, in amongst a strong ensemble is Juliette Binoche. Wild, wanton and unhinged, her Dr Dibs nearly eclipses the ride with her feral talent as a wild spirit in a button-down role. Whilst the other characters feel like bystanders in a funeral yet to happen, the twin polarities of Pattinson and Binoche tear up the screen by staying increasingly apart.
Like Solaris, ‘High Life’ uses the pasts of each character to gnaw away at their future. Suffused also with a wheezing organ score by Tindersticks‘s Stuart A. Staples which channels much of Stanley Kubrick’s ‘The Shining‘, ‘High Life’ is a sublime film that echoes many of its inspirations whilst never leaning on any of them for support.
With a depraved line in scientific excess from Juliette Binoche, who frankly gives everything you could ever ask from a performance that only Juliette Binoche could ever deliver, and Robert Pattinson channelling Bruce Dern’s defining role in ‘Silent Running‘, ‘High Life’ really is the murderous companion to Danny Boyle’s electrifying ‘Sunshine‘ you’ve been waiting for.
Yes, I know. I’ve probably exhausted every sci-fi classic reference I can in this review – but on this occasion, it’s worth it.