Denis is confusing, and she is mysterious, but by giving High Life a chance and a backing, she is able to offer a state of confusion the most complicated of plot lines could only dream of enhancing
Taking anything of value from only one viewing of High Life is very difficult. Claire Denis’ latest film is very much a multiple watch piece, but actually understanding it is almost certainly impossible. Unimaginably ambiguous, the flow to the feature is particularly stuttering, and with a low key, low pace style, it isn’t the most natural film as far as engagement goes, but it has a wonderful aura of understanding about it, showing that it’s rewarding message is there, hidden in the depths of a space drama with lots to say.
Monte (Robert Pattinson) lives aboard a spaceship headed for a black hole, alone bar a young child named Willow. Yet flashbacks reveal a larger crew of once prisoners, lead by a doctor (Juliette Binoche) with a bizarre and sexualised style of practise. Opening up a third timeline, Monte and a now grown up Willow (Jessie Ross) finally reach the black hole, opening a wider range of human relatability, and a new view on those exposing moments that have plagued the film previously.
High Life offers film in its most art-like form, transposing multiple timelines with themes and visual representation that command real attention, and powerful thinking. Never laying out smoothly or cleanly what it wants to do, High Life leaves behind a feeling of trickery running its core philosophies, and many would, and will take against that. It’s a deeply unsettling feeling, as if the feature isn’t on your side, and when there’s ample opportunity to work against something, it often fails to get any praise it may deserve. But High Life sets out to confuse and antagonise, and it absolutely succeeds in doing so.
Robert Pattinson and Juliette Binoche combine for a form of the most art-house filmic options available, offering fully formed versions of the bizarre nature High Life thrives upon. It’s an all out piece, that’s purposefully hidden from view. Understanding Denis’ true meaning is certainly impossible, but that’s what makes it so genuinely enthralling. Holding on for every piece of social interaction, or power move, only adds to the shock when the most extreme moments hit; of which there are multiple.
Denis is confusing, and she is mysterious, but by giving High Life a chance and a backing, she is able to offer a state of confusion the most complicated of plot lines could only dream of enhancing. It’s astounding as much as it is frustrating, and that’s a joy to behold in the world of modern cinema.
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