Whatever you expect from “Robert Pattinson in space sci-fi,” High Life isn’t it

The trailer for Claire Denis’ High Life

For space-cinema fans, Spring 2019 has long had two big releases on the schedule unrelated to that big Apollo anniversary. The Brad Pitt-led, James Gray (Lost City of Z)-directed Ad Astra continues to target May, and the Robert Pattinson-starring, Claire Denis-made High Life arrives this week.

Before even so much as seeing a trailer for the former, I now know that the only thing these two films likely have in common will be an out-of-this-world setting.

At the most basic-level, High Life centers on the story of Monte (Pattinson), the last man on the nondescript spaceship No.7. Quickly, the film reveals he hasn’t always been this alone—originally Monte was one of nine inmates released from their sentences in exchange for accepting an interstellar mission. “We were scum, trash, refuse that didn’t fit into the system until someone had the bright idea of recycling us to serve science,” as Monte’s narration frames it. Why and how these people ended up as hauntingly beautiful floating space debris makes up the bulk of High Life’s minimalist plot, as does the question of what made Monte avoid and continue to put off such a fate. Violence, mental challenges, and some off-the-books drugs and research complicate everything.

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