Film Review: HIGH LIFE (UK/France/Germany/Poland/USA) ****

High Life Poster
Trailer

A father and his daughter struggle to survive in deep space where they live in isolation.

Director:

Claire Denis

Claire Denis’s films take on the recurring them of human conflict in different scenarios.  In her first and in my opinion best film CHOCOLAT, Denis looked at what happens to black and whites in a confined space in Africa.  In BEAU TRAVAIL, the foreign legionaries were examined for their actions and behaviours and in her latest, HIGH LIFE, the audience takes a look at astronauts (some of whom are hardened criminals) confined in a spaceship as they interact with each other.

The results of her latest film is a mix between genres, Denis’ style which makes for one of the most intriguing films of the year.  And Denis delivers in HIGH LIFE – a mix of horror sci-fi and human drama where anything can happen and does.  The film can be described as a mix between Stanley Kubrick and Andrei Tarkovsky and perhaps a little Ridley Scott.

The film is set in the near future.   A spaceship proceeds on a mission to find a new energy source.  Its destination: the black hole within closest reach of Earth. The ship’s crew is a collection of dangerous prisoners with nothing left to lose.  The first scene has Monte (Robert Pattinson), the only crew member awake, rigorously tending to the computer and life-support system to keep everyone alive as they hurtle through deep space.  Monte is also caring for a baby daughter who was born on board — an anomaly that is just the first sign of the chaos to come.  As Monte’s self-discipline slips, the crew awakens and conflicts erupt.  

The crew are as unpredictable as their travels through space.  The horrors are the unknown – both in  space and of the crew’s personalities.  The curiosity of the travel through the black hole works.  The molecular cloud that kills one crew member is particularly horrifying to watch.  As for the action of the prisoners, the film includes two rape scenes and a very violent beating.

The film boasts two stars, Robert Pattinson and Juliette Binoche who both play nasty characters.  Binoche plays a doctor who rapes one of the astronauts under sedation while he gets a hard on.  Another character also commits rape and is beaten to a pulp.  This is also one of Denis’ most violent films.

The atmosphere and production sets of the spaceship are stunning and one admires Denis for the marvellous futuristic look in her first futuristic film.

Make sure to stay for the end credits.  The song “Willow” (also the name fo the baby girl in the film) is a haunting and beautiful piece that deserved to be listened to in its entirety.  

Denis moves her film in a non time linear manner so the story flashes forward and back quite often.  The film might be a bit confusing at first till one sits down and pieces the puzzle together.  With that, it must be stated that HIGH LIFE should be seen a second time in order to appreciate the film’s worth.  And the film is well worth it.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AtOwfo1ypOw

Advertisements

Film Review: LET THE SUNSHINE IN (Un beau soleil intérieur)(France 2017) ***

Submit your Screenplay to the Festival TODAY

Let the Sunshine In Poster
Trailer

Isabelle, Parisian artist, divorced mother, is looking for love, true love at last.

Director:

Claire Denis

Writers:

Christine Angot (screenplay), Claire Denis (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

 

LET THE SUNSHINE IN has been touted by critics as Claire Denis in lighter form.  From the film’s opening scene with Juliette Binoche having sex with an older man taking too long to reach orgasm, lighter form might still be very serious to the average moviegoer.  Denis’ films as the director herself, is not always say to take, the director recently giving her interviewer for THE GUARDIAN a hard time at all the questions asked, but her films are often more rewarding and a challenge than the typical Hollywood kitsch.  LET THE SUNSHINE IN is not a comedy but a drama.  It follows its heroine, Isabelle (Juliette Binoche), a middle aged divorced painter living in Paris, as she looks for love.

Isabelle’s love encounters, each lasting some months or so.  The first is the banker (Xavier Beauvois), next, a good-looking actor (Nicolas Duvauchelle), then, a fellow artist (Alex Descas) and lastly her ex (Laurent Grevill).  The film can be divided into 4 separate segments bound by one theme followed by a conclusion.

For each of the segments and lovers, Isabelle exhibits the same personality – that of a head strong, intelligent woman wanting to find true love and a relationship but just meeting the wrong men.  The common trait is her frustration often leading to anger when she is unable to get what she wants.  She ends up ditching the lover and moving on to the next one.  It is interesting to note that she always starts off on a wrong footing.  The first one, she tries is a married man, another she picks up at a club, and another one her ex, whom she had, had before.

Denis allows her audience to see what is wrong with each man and emphasizes their faults.  The banker is seen to be the worst, abusing a waiter at the bar where they have a drink.  “Put the water there,” he insists to the waiter.  “I need hot water.”  He also has the gall to tell Isabelle that his wife is extraordinary but she only charming.  It takes great pleasure later to see Isabelle tell him off and slam the door in his face.

The film has a unexpected ending in the form of a segment involving Isabelle and a fortune teller played by no less than Gerard Depardieu.  Depardieu delivers a speech on Isabelle’s love lives even going down to specifics on whether a particular lover might or might not work out.  This ending looks like a cop-out with a too all written out conclusion dished out to the audience, which goes against the flow of the rest of the film.

Denis’ film is a very intriguing watch as Denis makes very emotional wrenching films often dealing with characters unable to get out of the rut their themselves have gotten themselves in as in CHOCOLAT, her first and one of there best films.  LET THE SUNSHINE IN is aided by an extraordinary and charming performance by her star Juliette Binoche.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ps_Sau7xqQY

Submit your Screenplay to the Festival TODAY