High Life – What Does It Want To Say?

When it was announced that Claire Denis was going to make an English language film with Robert Pattinson, I was really excited. Having seen the director’s previous work such as 35 Shots Of Rum, I was curious as to what she was going to with a film set in outer space. High Life certainly does not disappoint as it is one film that raises more questions than it gives answers. Personally I like this as I feel that too many movies try giving answers when they perhaps don’t have to.

The way I see it, the film is trying to talk about our base needs and how they don’t change even in the future or when we are hurtling through the galaxy. Sex is what powers human beings and that’s what is happening here as well. The people on the spaceship are there because Juliette Binoche’s character wants to create life. They are merely guinea pigs in an experiment that she makes work with dubious measures. There is a lot to unpack on a ethical and philosophical level. But the film wisely steers clear from that and focuses on the people who are the crux of the ship.


The heart of the film is the relationship between Robert Pattinson’s Monte and his daughter. If there is one part that could have been explored a little more, it would be how the two survived on the ship until the daughter becomes a teenager. Denis decides to present the story in a non-linear manner and the effect is quite disorienting like traveling through space. We keep cutting between the past and present so often that it becomes merged and feels the same. Perhaps this is a comment on the way time works when you leave Earth.

As far as performances are concerned, it is Robert Pattinson who holds the ship down with great aplomb. His intensity slowly evolves into a state of resigned helplessness and the growing weariness on his face is a joy to watch. He keeps adding to his already impressive filmography. I would definitely recommend this film as it raises some interesting points that we don’t normally see in films from this genre. High Life is further proof of the editing mastery that is present in Claire Denis films and if nothing else, it is worth watching for its technical qualities alone.

Until next time, bye.