High Life ★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Honestly pretty absurd - the entire premise is so completely circumstantial, and Denis's merging of space travel with Christian symbolism is kind of antithetical. This isn't a criticism necessarily - as a 'mood' piece, or a purely formal foray this film totally excels, and might actually be my favorite Claire Denis film. It only becomes an issue during the black hole sequence and say, the Edenic sequences throughout the film, or the ending. Even with the films standing on unconsensual sex (which is still something I'm really trying to parse through re: the second scene with Pattinson) I get that Denis sees Mia Goth's being launched into the black hole as metaphor for post-sexual assualt trauma, but following with her actual death (her head exploding) is strange - because we don't actually know if that is what would happen if one was launched into a black hole as yet. In that sense though, I think I did learn (or realize) more about Denis as a filmmaker - she views everything as symbolism, her relationship to "the other" is purely as visual metaphor. This can be for better or worse - often the latter when Denis is dealing with non-white characters in my opinion, but this one sits somewhere in the middle. It's space, not a living being - we don't have to worry about respecting it. We don't yet know how space works - though the occasional "fear of the unknown" vibes are a little bit annoying.

At the same time, its a completely unique work - a really fascinating blend of Denis's sense of naturalism (which is very on-off for me) with something she's clearly learning (and willing to learn more) about. It's the opposition between the two which make this such a striking work. In a way - this film would have made far more sense if it was at a prison - but combining that concept with space travel one senses that Denis is finally willing to step out of her French conservatism. And in a way, she doesn't, but really tries to think through the both as one entity - it's really unlike anything I've ever seen.