High Life ★★★★½

In many respects, the mesmerizing and elusive “High Life” is a first for writer-director Claire Denis: the first of her films to be shot in English, the first of her films to be set in space, and the first of her films to follow Juliette Binoche inside a metal chamber that’s referred to as “The Fuckbox,” where the world’s finest actress — playing a mad scientist aboard an intergalactic prison ship on a one-way trip to Earth’s nearest black hole — straddles a giant dildo chair and violently masturbates in a scene that’s endowed with the tortured energy of a Cirque du Soleil routine.

Needless to say, “High Life” isn’t your average science-fiction movie. In fact, Denis rejects the genre designation outright, insisting that her latest and most elliptical opus is far too grounded to be lumped in with the likes of “Star Wars” and “Solaris.” That logic doesn’t quite hold up to scrutiny in a film where Robert Pattinson and Andre 3000 ride a flying matchbox past the outer limits of our solar system, but this is just semantics. The results are heavenly all the same.

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