Claire Denis’ "High Life" had an underwhelming world premiere at the Roy Thomson Hall during the Toronto Film Festival, for which I attended. Around half the audience had already left the theater by the time the film ended, you could just tell nobody was into it. And this is coming from a fest that prides itself in having the best audience in the world. Even Toronto audiences couldn't deal with the metaphorical artsy ambitions that were unfurling on the screen. And I don't mean that as a detraction of Denis' mad ambitions in "High Life," which, by all accounts, warrants a repeat viewing on my part.
For now, I'll refrain from reviewing "High Life," until I watch it a second time, but Denis will have her widest audience ever for this sci-fi film, which has her biggest budget and stars 'dreamy' Robert Pattinson. And by sci-fi I don't mean brainy sci-fi à la Christopher Nolan, this is Claire Denis after all, she makes personal films that are all but impenetrable for mainstream moviegoers.
Synopsis of the film:
"Deep space. Beyond our solar system. Monte and his infant daughter Willow live together aboard a spacecraft, in complete isolation. A solitary man, whose strict self-discipline is a protection against desire –his own and that of others– Monte fathered the girl against his will. His sperm was used to inseminate Boyse, the young woman who gave birth to her. They were members of a crew of prisoners: space convicts, death row inmates. Guinea pigs sent on a mission to the black hole closest to Earth. Now only Monte and Willow remain. And Monte is changed. Through his daughter, for the first time, he experiences the birth of an all-powerful love. Willow grows, becoming a young girl, then a young woman."