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High Life

Germany/France/USA/Great Britain/Poland 2018. Dir: Claire Denis. 113 min. DCP

“Orgasmic brilliance ... With an achievement of this calibre it’s hard to resist hyperbole.”
CHARLES BRAMESCO, THE GUARDIAN

“Uncompromising and enigmatic, High Life relinquishes nothing of the philosophical and visual force, the difficulty and seductiveness, that have made Denis’s films among the most compelling of contemporary cinema.”
ERIKA BALSOM, SIGHT & SOUND

French auteur Claire Denis, “the world's greatest working filmmaker” (Barry Jenkins), brings her singular sensibilities to bear on the astral sci-fi movie with High Life, her astonishing English-language debut. Set in a not-so-speculative near future, Denis’s cosmic stunner concerns an end-of-life Earth in search of an alternative energy source. Cue Monte (Robert Pattinson), one in a cohort of death-row inmates offered absolution by hurling themselves across the galaxy in a spaceship bound for the nearest black hole. That mission is dire but clear; murkier are the fertility experiments conducted by the on-board doctor (Juliette Binoche), obsessed with sparking new life in the cosmos sans sex. Bodily fluids are in good supply, as is Denis’s elliptical storytelling and penchant for transgression. Like genre touchstones 2001 and Solaris, Denis’s philosophical space opera is less an off-world exploration than an inward rumination on being human.


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Programming Note: “Claire Denis: Trouble Every Day,” a retrospective of the director’s work, was presented at The Cinematheque in June. High Life screens here as an extension of that series.

 

REVIEWS

★★★★★ "Superbly eerie ... As with so many of Denis’ films, the point is to contrive an overwhelmingly powerful mood and moment, an almost physiological sensation, this one incubated in the vast, cold reaches of space."

The Guardian | full review

"Looks to be on the right side of a masterpiece ... Denis returns to the fertile ground of her Trouble Every Day era, using genre to dig beneath themes that others would only treat as skin-deep."

Globe and Mail | full review