High Life

High Life ★½

A frustrating end to my TIFF experience. 

I guess I’ll start with the positives, being Robert Pattinson and the production design. Pattinson really does his best with what he’s given here, and while his character is underwritten, he manages to simultaneously bring complexity and bluntness to his role. 

As for the design of the film, well... it just looks really good. Cool sets, neat effects, and some jarring but dazzling switches between cameras and perspectives (with some exceptions, which I’ll get to later). The film just nails it visually. 

In terms of the bad stuff, there’s no short supply. The film is so wrought with strange acting choices, horrible lines, and visual metaphors (maybe???).  The absolute worst parts of the whole movie, in my opinion, are the horrifically uncomfortable scenes of sexuality and rape, and how much of the plot hinges on them. I usually have no issues with these things in movies, especially if the plot revolves around them like it does here. Usually. 

Where my issue lies is that these scenes are not hard to watch because of any empathy we feel with the characters and the shock that these things are happening to them, but instead because these things are happening, and the scenes in which they take place are filled with bad lines, stupid character motivations, and shots where it seems like the cinematographer lost all the aptitude shown throughout the rest of the film. To make matters worse, these awful scenes are what the entire plot hinges on, making it all that much more difficult to look past them, and thereby causing the film to fall apart entirely. 

Eventually it got to a point where I wanted to walk out. I didn’t, and thankfully the end of the film was relatively forgiving. At times this film can feel as though it’s trying to just push you and push you, which is something I resented, and furthermore find alienating. I avoid using the word “pretentious” as often as possible but it really got on my nerves how often it didn’t feel like I was in on whatever this movie was trying to convey. For all the suffering High Life puts you through, the rewards, for me, were minimal to none. 

In the end it feels like Interstellar, Moon, and Antichrist had a space rape baby. The amount of praise this film is getting is mind boggling to me, because the only thing I was in awe of was how much potential was squandered in this mess of a film. 

TIFF #17

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