Banish thoughts of The Martian’s triumphant spuds-growing hero or Interstellar’s let’s-save-the-earth sap fest. Claire Denis’s High Life is no CGI-loaded, assembly-line space odyssey. Too close for comfort, stick-your-head-in-the-oven hopeless, this existential slow-burner is a “space sci-fi drama” inasmuch as it’s set on a spaceship.
To avoid death row, a motley crew of convicts accept a virtual suicide mission to ride a spacecraft into a black hole – and are roped in as guinea pigs by the vessel’s unhinged doctor, who’s hell-bent on making the first IVF baby in space. Cue male rape, a “fuck box” (yep) and all-pervading sense of dread. Unsettlingly as it may be, Denis’s dystopia shatters the Hollywood mould, injecting depth, staggering imagination and sass into a tediously formulaic genre. Not for popcorn-chompers or born optimists…
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