PRINT April 2019



Claire Denis, High Life, 2018, 2K video, color, sound, 110 minutes. Monte (Robert Pattinson) and Baby Willow (Scarlett Lindsey).

THE REVERENT ADEPTS of French director Claire Denis hold her work inviolable, finding in its every lapse and disaster new conduits to her unconscious, mistaking her films’ copious incoherence for visionary poetry and their recurrent absurdity for narrative daring. Like her compatriot Olivier Assayas, Denis cannot resist forays into genre filmmaking: the vampire-cannibal horror movie in Trouble Every Day (2001); the modernist puzzle picture in L’intrus (The Intruder, 2004); film noir in Les salauds (Bastards, 2013); and rom-com in Un beau soleil intérieur (Let the Sunshine In, 2017). From the grim evidence, she is ill-suited to the enterprise. So it is with Denis’s latest work, a lugubrious sci-fi farrago whose title, High Life (2018), offers its sole attempt at wit—the film is set in outer space—and whose haphazard revisions of the tropes of astral opera once again suggest the

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