High Life [2018] Review: A Baffling Acid Trip into Darkest Recesses of Space

A rectangular container of a space craft hurtling alone across the cosmos, a red glove floating aimlessly in a chamber and long braided hair swaying wildly inducing near hypnosis – High Life has jarring spasms of mind bending visuals which may or may not hold relevance in the grander scheme of its narration. Claire Denis has defiled all the physical laws of nature and served an un-tethered art house cinematic experience.

Just like a black hole warping space and time, High Life begins somewhere in the middle section of its tale without having any courtesy to the much revered cinematic conventions. The most glaringly visible information – Monte (weirdly loopy Robert Pattinson) is stranded on a decaying space craft with his baby daughter to whom he teaches the essentials of how humans live – “Never drink your own piss” – as if reminding himself of his long forgotten memory of Earth. Through flashbacks, we are acquainted to the crew of death row inmates, sent to outer fringes of space as experimental guinea pigs. Led by a crazed doctor (Juliette Binoche) with her own mystic motives into the depths of the unknown, the purpose of their existence looses its sight as skepticism upon the nature of their mission spreads rapidly.

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There are plentiful sensory overloads scattered across the canvas of High Life. There are constant bawling of a new born, physical and mental assaults, orgasmic whispers and to top them all, multitudes of bodily fluids. Out in this nothingness, High Life carries loneliness close to its heart and builds a rousing, albeit sometimes frustrating tale of the necessity of interpersonal connections.

Also, Read – High Life [2019] Review: Sci-fi high

Claire Denis has kept the execution extremely minimal, providing no reference points or clarity over the story line. However, once retrospected in reverse, the screenplay lacks the intellectual punch such artistic ventures deserve. It further seems as if Denis wanted High Life to be experienced rather than understood. Like a Rubik’s Cube, it often feels like 3 Dimensional puzzle out of which, the onus of essence extraction lies upon us.

High Life is a baffling acid trip down the blackest recesses of spaces. In this genre defying work, Claire Denis has pitted the darkest of human desires against the infinite void of space. It shuns the pursuit of a coherent narration in the search of attaining deeper insights of what makes us survive against all odds.


High Life – IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes