High Life

High Life ★★★★½

In her most recent venture, director Claire Denis takes us to space in High Life, though she wouldn’t exactly label the film a “sci-fi movie”. Set almost entirely in space, save for a few flashbacks, Denis’ solar epic is surprisingly human – in the best and worst meaning of the word. A beautiful work that showcases the versatility of her directing and of her actors’ abilities, High Life is a stunning erotic space thriller that is certain to divide audiences.

Told in a nonlinear structure, the film opens with Monte (Robert Pattinson) raising a baby girl, Willow, alone on a spaceship. Through flashbacks, we discover that the ship had been used to house a group of convicts on death row. Seemingly a part of their punishment, the prisoners are subjected to tests run by the sadistic Dr. Dibbs (Juliette Binoche), who is intent on creating a child through artificial insemination. Sexual activity between prisoners is prohibited, their only option being “The Box”, a device used by the inmates and Dibbs alike to relieve themselves. Tensions begin to rise among the inmates, ultimately leading Dibbs to up the dosage of a sedative given to all of them every night. She takes advantage of Monte, the lone celibate on the ship, while he’s deep in sleep by raping him and using his semen to impregnate a young passenger, Boyse (Mia Goth).