The Movie: 6.8/10
This is not “A stunning space odyssey that will blow your mind” as Peter Travers of RollingStone is quoted as saying on the box. Peter, come on. Don’t get me wrong, I did like it. I had a good time. It’s weird in that eye opening way like, “What the f*** just happened?!” in a few scenes, which can be a good thing if done right or almost right, and it was in High Life. The whole thing borders on ridiculously farcical and yet it balances just right on that edge.
I won’t pretend it’s “good”. It’s not really. It’s got a lot of things that are just for shock value, even if the director/writer wants us to believe it’s for art and storytelling….nah. To see a masturbation machine on a space ship is not for artistic expression. It is what it is. Yes, it fits in the weird story and the unhinged mind of the woman in charge of the ship, but it’s nothing more than a thing to make us ask, “What the f*** just happened?!”.
A crew of what turns out to be rejected prisoners are on a space ship and are being used as fodder for some weird experiment that involves trying to make a baby in outer space. Well, I think that’s what the psychotic woman in charge seems to be doing. She’s traumatized by her crimes, oh yea, she is also a prisoner/criminal, but whoever sent this spacecraft into space made her the boss and resident mad scientist.
Did I mention there is a masturbation machine? I want to be clear, this movie has overt stunted adolescent sexual revelry. It’s not that grown up sexual weirdness you might have thought Eyes Wide Shut had, or the wrenching violent sexual terror of Irreversible, this is more like Porky’s in space, but no low brow slapstick comedy. Hmm I shouldn’t say that too loud, it could happen. I mean, Jason went to space, why not Pee Wee and Honeywell?
I did really really enjoy the part of this story that involved a man, alone on the spaceship except for a child he has to raise for 20 years. The whole thing is framed in flashbacks to when there was a full crew, and then back to the man and child when we are not sure why they are alone, but then we get a flashback explaining it all bit by bit. The parts with this equipped dude taking care of a child and keeping this ship flying through the cosmos, it could be a movie on its own. I say cut out the flashbacks and just tell us the quiet story of what feels so tragic and magical about the vastness of the universe and how it would be to be set adrift like that. No more Porky’s in space, just One Man and a Baby.
All that being said, I had a good time watching this movie. It’s awful pretentious and feels like a pet project of whoever made it, but it’s got enough WHOA moments that I was fully engaged. I also did care about the guy and the kid, so that matters a lot. That alone, caring about the characters, can override so many flaws in a movie. High Life benefited from that override for sure. Oh, one more thing, it looks really awesome. I’m sucker for a grungy broken down type environment set in the future and flung out beyond our orbit flying through the vastness of deep space.
- Audacious, Passionate, and Dangerous: Making High Life (19 Minutes) – An in depth look at the making of this wild film. Lots of interviews with cast and crew.
- Visualizing The Abyss: The Look Of High Life (11 Minutes) – Director and set designer take you through what it took to make the inside of the prison ship.
- Blu-ray & Digital Copy
Audio & Video: 8/10
High life comes to Blu-ray courtesy of a 1080P AVC transfer that keeps its theatrical roots intact. The movie uses three different aspect ratios to portray different times and does a good job of looking good when the shift happens. Blacks are inky and deep and macroblocking is nowhere to be found.
The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is quite muted and not what you might expect from a space movie, think 2001 not Star Wars. Music is quite a large part of the film and the sex scene is super intense due to the music. Dialog is easy to understand and quite central in the mix.
Overall Score 6.8/10