High Life 2018 ***

Every year, the cinematic season brings at least one psychedelic freak out, and following on the coat-tales of mother!, Claire Denis’s super-weird and defiantly original High Life arrives to test the patience of the unwary. Monte (Robert Pattinson) is a criminal who joins a group of convicts working in space, harvesting black holes in a way that’s not entirely clear. Due to the distances involved, it’s a suicide mission, although Dr Dibs (Juliette Binoche) is seeking a loophole through her experiments with some form of artificial insemination. Their story is bookended with lengthy framing scenes involving Monte clearing the dead-bodies of the crew out of the ship, so there’s no suspense about the outcome, only how Monte and the crew got to this point. Throw in Mia Goth and Andre 3000 and you’ve got a very odd package for Denis’s first English language film, which plays down the conventions of sci-fi in favour of something rather more elusive. Pattinson is excellent as ever, and even if the scripts reflections on human sexuality are unclear, High Life has an uncompromising stance on the deadly DNA of selfish human behaviour.


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