High Life: Film Review

Robert Pattinson has made a lot of interesting film decisions since The Twilight Saga but High Life has probably got to be the weirdest so far. So be warned: if you’re going in thinking this is going to be a simple ‘Robert Pattinson in space’ sci-fi you would be mistaken!

Pattinson plays Monte, who, along with other criminals serving death sentences, signs up for a mission to go to space to extract energy from a black hole. However, there is a secondary mission taking place during the trip – Dr. Dibs (Juliette Binoche) is obsessed with creating a child through artificial insemination and the passengers are all expected to participate in her experiment.

The film starts with completely no context – just Monte on the ship alone with a baby – and you don’t learn how, what, when and why for a while so I really struggled to get into it. However, after the narrative goes back to the start and we find out about the mission I was definitely intrigued.

The film and the script are pretty sparse. You don’t get a ton of information and the characters never really have a satisfyingly verbose conversation. I wanted to know more about the mission and more about these people and their relationships. You were given glimpses and enough nuggets of information to piece some context together but it wasn’t quite enough for someone like me. I kept thinking: “Why is this happening?!” The environment on the ship was also pretty unpleasant – there was a lot of yelling, physical fighting and so much hate towards each other.

Pattinson has been reliably excellent in recent years and that is much the same here, although his performance is very subtle and mostly subdued – you don’t get an awful lot of emotion and his face is largely blank. He has support from Binoche as the twisted doctor in charge of the experiment, who makes really morally questionable choices and has an eyebrow-raising solo sex scene, and Mia Goth and Andre Benjamin (aka Andre 3000 from OutKast) are fellow criminals onboard the ship.

High Life was just a bit bizarre and quite slow and quiet. Normally in films like that I struggle to stay awake but I was really gripped, wanting to find out what happened. Although I didn’t like some of the scenes – it was quite disturbing at times – I couldn’t turn away. It was provocative, a bit depressing and quite controversial and definitely won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. I didn’t really get what it was trying to say and came out of it wondering what it all means because there’s a lot to take in and interpret.

I guess I kinda liked it, particularly the sense of hope and new beginnings at the end. It’s hard to sum up my feelings about the movie because they are quite complicated and I haven’t found the words to articulate them accurately. I don’t think I would go as far as saying I enjoyed it because I’m not sure I followed it or figured out what it was trying to say but I was engrossed by it.

In selected cinemas Friday 10th May

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