Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 13, 2022 8:26 am 
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Claire Denis. A further note from 'Claire Denis Revisited'


Claire Denis: High Life (2018)

This is more clearly a flop on carefully rewatching, four years after my NYFF review. It lacks even the qualities of a good minimum budget sci-fi film which Duncan Jones' MOON has - a good clear plot. Lugubrious, depressing and violent, it's another of those bad films by good directors that make you wonder if you were wrong to love their other ones so much. Robert Pattinson's perfect bone structure is not enough. As overly enthusiastic Atlantic piece is right about one thing: that there are plenty of "loving and tender moments" in HIGH LIFE too. So it's not as simple as I'm trying to make it sound here, but it's not satisfying: it doesn't hold together. Richard Brody wrote a detailed analysis for The New Yorker online. He argues that HIGH LIFE is too conservative, stilted, stiff and expository. Jordan Mintzer in Hollywood Reporter in his good, balanced assessment, describes it as "a film both sensual and disturbing, strangely fascinating and slightly tedious, tender and off-putting, bold and also a bit stilted." Of course if you are a fan of Claire Denis, offbeat sci-fi movies, or Robert Pattinson, you will still have to watch this film despite its tedium and other obvious flaws.

AlloCiné press rating (French review aggregator): 3.1, 62%, but Metascore (US or anglophone critics) is 77%. Is one turnoff for the French that it's a French director's first English-language film? There is another factor: Denis is working with a somewhat different crew here, notably without her collaborative cinematographer, Agnès Godard, whose lovely, intimate images have been so much a part of her films.

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