High Life

A group of criminals (including Robert Pattinson, Mia Goth and André 3000) are sent into space to extract an alternative energy source from a black hole while a perverted doctor (Juliette Binoche) collects their sperm for experimentation in sci-fi/horror High Life, a pun on lowlife that assumes space is high up. It should be called Cumshine.

The idea of rounding up criminals for an important mission makes as little sense here as it did in Suicide Squad and is equally hard to watch, thanks to the endurance test filmmaking of Claire Denis (Chocolat (1988), not to be confused with Chocolat (2000). Even though it stars Juliette Binoche, if you go expecting a sequel to Chocolat you will be doubly traumatised). Her deliberately objectionable characters and prolonged scenes of attempted rape make it upsettingly like an X-rated version of Passengers.

Denis includes some arresting visuals and a horrific sci-fi sex scene but nothing that hasn’t been better executed elsewhere (Sunshine, Crash, Space Chimps) and nothing you couldn’t get by simply watching the cesarean scene from Prometheus on a loop, but somehow more punishing. Like watching the cesarean scene from Prometheus on a loop with the director’s commentary. There are also better ways to feel sick and watch a depressing space film at the same time, for instance by mixing Soleros and Solaris.

Bleak, uncomfortable and unnecessary, High Life is a black hole of a movie. A-void.

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