Seeing Claire Denis trying her hand at science fiction with High Life movie can only be exciting. During an eclectic career, the director has visited many genres without ever losing her uniqueness. The primary specifications will therefore be respected: a vaguely dystopian near future, a space odyssey, a ship, a few pieces of technology and a leap into the unknown. A marked out ground that it will be a question of undermining, if one knows a little about the quirks and mischiefs of the filmmaker.
High Life movie critic
It is eminently difficult not to curb the temptations of comparisons with the two great master authors in the matter: the Tarkovski of Solaris and the Kubrick of 2001, eternal beacons and encumbering the cosmos for half a century. From the first, Claire Denis borrows a reflection on the Earth when it is left, and the propensity of man to redefine himself when he breaks the moorings with the constraints that made him a human being. The fragmented account, the rather vintage images of the earthly past, the unfathomable mystery of tortured men refer to this mental station which the Russian thinker had developed.
In the shadow of the second, we find the general dynamics of the course and the successive leaps that lead from science to a purer form of letting go, a renewed relationship to time, a sort of anxiety-inducing on-site to the outskirts. of a black hole full of fearful promises. As for this flying greenhouse, a sort of natural arch lost on the edge of the cosmos, it also refers to the blunders of Douglas Trumbull’s Silent Running …
The themes are necessarily common, and cannot be ignored, even if we take care here to display certain distances, like the relationship to music, more composed of atmospheric layers than conventional lyricism, or of this vessel, a sharp awkwardly parallelepiped? – with the mythological circularity imprinted on the retina of all moviegoers.
But the real contribution of the director will be that of the body, an obsessive theme in her work. While the beginning of the story seems to oppose the gravity of terrestrial violence (the motive for the presence of those condemned to imprisonment, candidates for this suicide mission) to the weightlessness of a vessel in which a rather peaceful community would have been created, the pretty cosmic ballet of corpses in spacesuits announces a more tragic outcome, even if it seems the condition in the new era of a couple which would consist of a father and his daughter. The comings and goings between the present of life and the tormented past which led to it make the film’s temporary strength: to mix, for example, the tenderness of the father towards his offspring with the dubious experiences of forced fertilization, to confuse the silhouette of a child becoming a woman with her abused or violent ancestors generates a contrasting and disturbing vision of human figures.
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It is in these sequences of High Life movie, mainly centered around the character of Juliette Binoche (the sex box, the relationship with patients, particularly asleep), that real asperities emerge, within a generally hushed and almost asthenic story. The score of Pattison as a monk, if it is justified to make him a sort of candidate for infinity, ultimately mirrors this strange film, which is careful not to conclude: ambitious but minimalist, tortured but disembodied.