BRAT’s review published on Letterboxd:
an unholy mixture of both nihilism and optimism that only claire denis could pull off. it's a literal dog-eat-dog world out there, and the awful events happening in this film (systemic abuse of prisoners, rape, negative health effects from radiation, deadly experimentation) are happening every day in real life. in one early scene, the ethical implications of sending prisoners on a suicide mission to a black hole are reduced to dispassionate conversations between citizens on Earth, much like our reality. we check the news on twitter/in the paper/wherever and discuss with friends over a cup of coffee, angry but comfortable, while the people the stories are about suffer helplessly.
to be honest, i felt numb when i walked out of the theater*. but the longer i spend untangling this erotic sci-fi enigma in my mind, the more i feel myself grasping what denis is communicating underneath high life's dense morbidity: through it all, hope remains. it could be in the form of a kindred spirit who provides support. it could be the possibility of a scientific breakthrough. it could be parental love for a child. it could even be a fuckbox. as the poster suggests, whatever it is that stops us from self-destructing, we latch onto it for survival. as to whether or not our chosen method is a healthy way to cope ...... it's all relative, baby!
* = perhaps part of my numbness was due to my being relentlessly stalked around the venue by the man next to me in the popcorn line before the showing, resulting in my quietly stewing for the majority of the runtime. compared to what the characters in this film endure, the light stalking was nothing, but it still pissed me off!!!