My location via GPS

High Life

In Claire Denis‘ science fiction film a prison spaceship is racing towards a black hole. On board, Dr. Dibs (Juliette Binoche) conducts fertility experiments and lives out her desires in a “fuckbox“ while Monte (Robert Pattinson) remains ...


Love in an event horizon, a yearning for death, masturbation, voyeurism, fuck machines, rape, prisons, the death penalty, having children or not, desire, chastity, incest, obscenities, bodily fluids, taboo, guilt. In the middle of it all, a black hole. Claire Denis‘ HIGH LIFE is a precisely composed film which still seems as though Denis threw a whole bunch of obsessions at the wall to saw what stuck.

A garden with cold artificial lighting. Water drops on the leaves, a baby screams over the bass clarinet and drone sounds of Stuart A. Staples* (Tindersticks) hypnotically dreamy soundtrack. The child, Willow, sits in a hastily constructed playpen, her father Monte (Robert Pattinson) works on the exterior of the spaceship they‘re both on. When he lets a screw drop, he remembers a scene of his “original sin,“ the murder that brought him to this ship. He then lets the cryogenically conserved corpses of the other crew members fall in space. The title of Claire Denis‘ film HIGH LIFE appears over the falling bodies in the endless black space. The image shows the opposite, but is it a macabre joke or a sincere image of absolute forlornness? Maybe it‘s both.

Monte and Willow are the last survivors of a moribund mission. Monte tells his daughter how this came to be. All of the participants were sentenced to death and were given the chance to “serve science“ instead of being executed. Their spaceship is traveling to a black hole that will swallow them at some point. They can‘t return to Earth. They are the living dead who are also wasting away due to the radiation. The crew only sees fragments of TV transmissions, like memories of a long-gone life. During the journey Dr. Dibs (Juliette Binoche) does experiments on reproduction in space. She takes the men‘s sperm and they get drugs for each ejaculation in return. There are no relationships or love on board, at least not the mutual kind. Everything centers around bodily fluids and lonely sensual experience. Urine and feces are recycled to become drinking water. Sex only takes place in a “fuckbox“, that excretes a milky fluid after the act. Only Monte remains celibate and is mocked for being a “monk“ by the other crew members. Juliette Binoche‘s lonely, ecstatic ride on a steel dildo machine is one of the erotic highlights.

The elegiac sounds may maintain the opposite, but HIGH LIFE has many funny, sometimes salacious moments. With the birth of Willow, Dr. Dib‘s masterpiece, with which she wants to atone for her own sin, the mood changes. The “monk“ Monte shows gentleness and responsibility, but a taboo hangs over the relationship between father and daughter, which is also the first word Monte teaches his daughter. It isn‘t the classic, Christian Hollywood redemption, but maybe a moment of touch is all there still is.

Tom Dorow

Translation: Elinor Lewy


Original title: High Life
Großbritannien/ Frankreich/ Deutschland 2018, 110 min
Language: English
Genre: Adventure, Science Fiction, Horror
Director: Claire Denis
Author: Claire Denis, Jean-Pol Fargeau, Nick Laird, Zadie Smith
DOP: Yorick Le Saux
Montage: Guy Lecorne, Nelly Quettier
Music: Stuart Staples, Tindersticks
Distributor: Pandora Film
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, Mia Goth, André Benjamin
FSK: 16
Release: 30.05.2019




  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles

Die Inhalte dieser Webseite dürfen nicht gehandelt oder weitergegeben werden. Jede Vervielfältigung, Veröffentlichung oder andere Nutzung dieser Inhalte ist verboten, soweit die INDIEKINO BERLIN UG (haftungsbeschränkt) nicht ausdrücklich schriftlich ihr Einverständnis erklärt hat.