High Life ★★★½

What a strange film. When I first encountered Claire Denis in grad school, watching her postcolonial Billy Budd riff Beau Travail, if you had told me she'd one day make a space-bound, English-language sci-fi film featuring a fuckbox and all the precious bodily fluids, I'm not sure what I would have thought. Having seen most of her other films in the interim, I'm STILL not sure I would have believed that this was something she'd make or even want to make. But now, having seen High Life, it kind of makes perfect sense?

This is a highly idiosyncratic movie—in ways that I think both help it AND hurt it—and one I feel like I'll have to think about a bit before I can really get what it's after. It's so grim, and cruel, and yet sometimes so lovely. It's highly impersonal and distant, and yet manages great intimacy. Its ideas are, scarily, not far from something I could see happen in reality, and yet are also so fanciful and strange. It all just needs more time to settle.

I think, for something that's so far out already, that maybe some of the flashing back and forth in time is one step too far into confusion. I'm no novice to confusing, artsy cinema but I can tell you that most of the audience that saw this with me couldn't believe it was over when it ended (and that's not counting the walk-outs). The performances, at least, are all very strong (when they're allowed to be by the script, editing, and Denis's choices), and I continue to love Pattinson's choice of projects, even when I don't know what to make of the films themselves.

Anyway, all else aside, I hope people keep throwing money at Denis to let her do whatever she wants.