September 10th, 2018 / 2 Comments


Reviews of Robert Pattinson’s performance in #HighLife by Claire Denis

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“orgasmic brilliance in deepest space with Robert Pattinson” Charles Bramesco, The Guardian

Below is our review roundup and/or reactions to Rob’s performance in High Life.  If a review doesn’t mention Rob’s performance (which surprisingly happens at times), then I will post what they thought about the film overall.  I have also created a new category WTF Did I Just Watch – this will contain both good and bad.  I will try to avoid spoilers, although I have a feeling it will be pretty much next to impossible with this film given initial reactions at TIFF which you can read HERE.  This post will cover all future releases and I will collate together under each festival or country of release and will of course will be updated frequently.  Here’s the first batch from TIFF…

The Cool

Screen Daily (TIFF18)

“[Pattinson] is the most engaging human element in an intriguing, playfully provocative Denis piece that has us in search of a depth and meaning that simply may not be there.”

The Playlist (TIFF18)

(this, by the way, is yet another scorching Pattinson performance; he plays the character’s menace and rebellion with brio, but look at his face the first time he sees the baby).

The Hollywood Reporter (TIFF18)

As such, it’s hard to see High Life reaching a sizeable public despite a fully engaging Pattinson and Denis’ art-house renown. But the director’s ardent fans will likely find much to admire here — especially the fact that the 72-year-old Denis remains a fearless filmmaker who, in her own way, has gone this time where no man (or woman) has gone before. … and despite a committed performance from a very watchable Pattinson — Denis definitely brings out the man’s beauty in certain shots, bathing him in floods of red light 

The Guardian (TIFF18)

“… orgasmic brilliance in deepest space with Robert Pattinson …

The brilliance of Denis’ films, with their arresting imagery, tends to creep up on viewers hours or even days later – the film critic Manny Farber dubbed this class of work “termite art”.

IndieWire (David Ehrlich) (TIFF18)  *CONTAINS SPOILERS*

Claire Denis Takes Robert Pattinson on an Erotic Space Odyssey in This Mesmerizing Look into the Void … In a film that’s comprised of a million little details, it’s impossible to overstate the importance of the ones that make the cut. … Denis’ haunting and sublime movie suggests that we all have to stop close enough to the abyss that we can begin to see a new hope building inside, no matter how deranged that hope might be.  Grade:  A-

Cinema Scope (TIFF18)

There is a shot of an infant being carried by its father in Claire Denis’ L’intrus that may be the most rapt and tender image of its kind I’ve ever seen in a film. 

The AV Club (TIFF18)

Robert Pattinson, who’s probably never dragged his fans into stranger territory, stars as an astronaut raising a baby on a lonely spacecraft drifting through the cosmos. … But in terms of mood, cosmetics, and rhythm, it’s a worthy addition to the great filmmaker’s canon. I was especially taken with its flexible, downright nonsensical physics (airlocks can be opened like normal doors and things plummet downwards through space as though it had its own gravity) and tech straight out of an ’80s sci-fi movie. It’s the polar opposite of First Man’s scientific accuracy, and just as riveting.

Variety (TIFF18) *CONTAINS SPOILERS*

These moments of connection, beautifully played by Pattinson and a borderline miraculous baby performer (Scarlett Lindsey) are all the more precious once we realize that the pair are the last ones left alive aboard a slowly failing spaceship, unromantically designed to resemble a shipping container. …  This kinky, often grotesque melding of genre science-fiction with all-out body horror is an audacious project, but the scope of its ambition is cleverly reined in by the low-key presentation …

LA Times (TIFF18)

“High Life” is a trip and a half. … Pattinson — going from strength to art-house strength … High Life” can be brutal and breathtakingly perverse as only a Denis film can be. But perhaps even more disturbingly, that brutality is undergirded by real warmth and tenderness, particularly in the scenes of Monte raising the baby, whose provenance is one of the film’s gradually unwinding mysteries.

Pinnland Empire (TIFF18)

According to a few sources, Denis had Vincent Gallo in mind for the lead but I think Pattinson was the right choice … I know I’ve just seen this less than 24 hours ago but High Life might be my favorite of the festival so far …

NOW Toronto (TIFF18)

Claire Denis-directed sci-fi film starring Robert Pattinson is often uncomfortable and frequently mind-blowing … This is very much a prison film that uses the artificiality of the genre conceit – from beautifully designed space suits and astrological phenomenon to over-the-top story points and gruesome violence – to contemplate basic human impulses.

Slant Magazine (TIFF18) *CONTAINS SPOILERS*

It’s no backhanded compliment to say the hype surrounding Claire Denis’s High Life will and must run aground of the film itself. Given the participation of celebrities like Robert Pattinson, industry types couldn’t help but wonder if Denis was planning to perform an art-house subversion on the sci-fi genre and deliver something mainstream-friendlier than her prior work. But the most subversive thing about High Life is probably that it exists in the first place; it’s a vision of the future as bleak and feverish as her 2013 thriller Bastards …

Ioncinema (TIFF18) *CONTAINS SPOILERS*

A film demanding more than one viewing, for it takes time to orient one’s self within this strange new world from Claire Denis, it may be doomed by a mixed or divisive reception—but this is eventually a film which will conjure cult followings and recuperative efforts. … Pattinson, who continues to align himself with daring and exciting auteurs from around the globe, is more inscrutable than usual as Monte, affectionally called ‘The Monk’ for his initial commitment to abstinence and unwillingness to share his seed (and much like a Greek tragedy, it’s he who is fated to propagate). 

Film Era (TIFF18)

High Life is clumsy at times, stilted and bewildering at others, owing in part perhaps to it being her first English-language production. But as it builds, it overwhelms, and exposition finally gives way to one of the most fractured, baffling and astonishing movie experiences of the year. … Denis, speaking of one of the production partners on the film, claimed the man hated her. But, she added, who cares? That’s the kind of attitude that casts heartthrob Robert Pattinson in a science-fiction film, and then turns in a finished product that makes Trouble Every Day look quaint, and causes the most audience walkouts I’ve seen during TIFF since Albert Serra’s Birdsong in 2008. Coincidentally, both great films!

The Globe & Mail (TIFF18)

High Life looks to be on the right side of a masterpiece … The ending of High Life arrives almost too suddenly, but that’s only incentive to seek out a second, third and fourth viewing as soon as humanly possible.

Vanity Fair (TIFF18) *Contains Spoilers*

What Denis gives us is lonelier, more stark. You feel, seeing the crescent of his helmet in the light, that Pattinson and his ship are lost in an actual void, like they’ve stumbled into a dark room and will spend the ensuing two hours feeling for the light switch. Denis’s vision of space isn’t literal; it’s a representation of what it must feel like for space to be a life sentence.

Les In Rocks (TIFF18)

Away from this “great dignified cinema”, Claire Denis has delivered with 
High Life a film resolutely rude, disturbing, cutting, irreducible. 
With a sulphurous reputation, even if we did not quite understand what had caused some Toronto spectators to leave the room to vomit, disgusted after only a few tens of minutes, High Life is sort of an answer at Interstellar , just like Solaris was a response to 2001– which does not detract from any, we can like all these films for different reasons. 

Boston Globe (TIFF18)

What sounds like a gore film is actually an elegantly terrifying psychological horror movie, more in Kubrick’s corner than what Chazelle’s up to. Star Robert Pattinson rises to the occasion as the mission’s sole adult survivor, while Juliette Binoche rules the flashbacks as the sinister Dr. Dibs. “First Man” is moving and awe-inspiring; “High Life” is cryptic, unsettling, and unforgettable. This is why some of us love the movies.

The Film Stage (TIFF18)

Robert Pattinson, excellent in all his dutifully repressed suffering …

Live for Film (TIFF18)

I give full credit to Denis, a brave and provocative filmmaker for a movie that I still couldn’t look away from despite not enjoying it on the whole. Part of this is due to Pattinson, who continues to be a formidable actor in indie fare. 

The Ringer (TIFF18) *Contains Spoilers*

… with a stellar international cast including Juliette Binoche (star of Let the Sunshine In), Robert Pattinson, and André Benjamin, a.k.a. André 3000 himself.

No one saw High Life coming—much less its splashy acquisition by indie hitmaker A24 …

Vanyaland (TIFF18)

Pattinson is magnetic as usual, taking the kind of well-meaning (or at least he thinks) sociopath vibe that he’s amplified in films like Good Time and Damsel over the last couple of years, and he marries that well with an existential angst befitting the plight of one trapped on a vessel heading towards a fucking black hole.

The Hollywood News (TIFF18) *Contains Spoilers*

High Life is perhaps one of the most original and disturbing space movies we’ve ever seen It’s difficult to compare it to anything that has been done before. 

The cast is magnificent, Pattinson especially, … (4 out of 5 star)

ScreenAnarchy (TIFF18)

Pattinson is well-suited to Monte, who is quiet, stoic, celibate (both by choice and eventually by circumstance) … High Life reveals its secrets in this slow-burn, disjointed, yet perfectly tuned narrative; in the darkest corner of space … 

Consequence of Sound (TIFF18)

It doesn’t shock its viewers, nor does Denis seem to have any interest in doing so. It quietly, meticulously unmoors them instead. … Slowly but strangely, High Life delves into this with precision, wit, melancholy, a dash of existential angst, and maybe even a hint of wonder.

Will Wong (TIFF18)

Pattinson positively knocks this one out of the park, carrying the Film from one strangely enigmatic moment to the next. He does a terrific job reminding us that Edward Cullen should continue to be a forgotten fragment of the past.

Space (TIFF18)

For anyone who went into First Man hoping for a more adventurous journey into space, High Life should come as a breath of fresh air. A wilfully bizarre experiment in arthouse sci-fi, this outré Robert Pattinson vehicle gleefully ignores the conventions of space cinema. 

Little White Lies (TIFF18)

It’s hard to see anyone but the soulful Pattinson as Monte … High Life is a triumph of story, casting, production design and cinematography – it’s also a challenging watch that will certainly not find unanimous acclaim, although Denis has never been one to court adoration, and her films are better for it. 

The Skinny (TIFF18)

Pattinson is stoic and resilient, often monk-like in the midst of Dibs’ and the other inmates’ chaos. In his eventual isolation with his child, he seems to find the only genuine sense of fulfilment in the film in raising her. These are all mere fragments, however, of Denis’ work, a chaotic whirlwind of cinematic bizarrity that has to be seen to be believed.

Stories by Nicholas Olsen (TIFF18) *Contains Spoilers*

Denis is not looking to appease the average moviegoer, though. She’s confident and knows how to shock with high-powered filmmaking. The idea behind High Life is golden and darkly fascinating.

Roger Ebert (TIFF18)

This is a film that owes a great deal more to Tarkovsky than Nolan, and further proof that Pattinson is one of the most daring actors of his generation, eschewing leading man roles to work with filmmakers like James Gray, the Safdies, and Claire Denis. “High Life” was bought by A24 shortly after its premiere.

Goombastomp (TIFF18)

Pattinson, though, is clearly the star of the film, and he wisely does as little as possible in that capacity. … in High Life, he practices an even greater degree of restraint. It would be easy for an actor to pull out all the stops with Denis’ bonkers story, but it’s far more compelling when they keep the energy low, as if they have been desensitized to everything around them. …

I’ve seen many great films so far at TIFF, but none have made me want to watch them all over again as strongly as High Life. I just want to bathe in its cosmic glow a little longer.

CineVue (TIFF18)

High Life’s ending may leave some feeling dissatisfied, as will its slow pace and strange, psychological bent. But this is not the cold, procedural logic of the sci-fi of Interstellar, nor is it the whiz-bang of the recent Star Trek films. Instead, Denis has crafted an astonishing and original film, one to be pondered over, reflected upon and ingested.

Liberation (TIFF18) *Contains Spoilers*

As a reference and center of the film, there is Robert Pattinson, more and more fascinating from film to film in his search for radicalism, and who preserves the last quantum of humanity on board as father / guardian of a little girl. 

The Guardian (TIFF18 Roundup)

Best of all was Claire Denis’s English language debut, High Life, whose plot alone is so wonderfully bizarre I can hardly believe the film exists. (Note:  High Voted Best Feature by The Guardian for the Toronto Top Moments)

Sight & Sound (TIFF18) *Contains Spoilers*

In French master Claire Denis’ off-planet but decidedly earthy English-language debut, Juliette Binoche plays a crazed scientist intent on harvesting the semen of Robert Pattinson’s monkish inmate on a prison-ship sent to extract the energy from black holes. What’s not to like? … Denis’ English-language debut is confronting, morbid and frequently dazzling.

3 Brothers Film (TIFF18)

Pattinson is excellent in the lead role and the moments of him and the baby reveal a shocking tenderness that speaks to his sensitivity as an actor. [Note:  Only gave film 5 out of 10 overall]

International Cinefile Society (TIFF18)

With her focus on a lack of emotions and of passion, there was perhaps no better choice to lead Denis’ cast than Robert Pattinson. Pattinson is putting together a solid career playing cold, empty men who struggle to react with anything resembling empathy to the world around them. Whether as a multibillionaire in Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis, a vampire in the Twilight series, or a man using his brother to commit crimes in the Safdies’ Good Time, Pattinson’s face is a cipher that an auteur can use in a number of ways.

SciFiNow UK (TIFF18)

Robert Pattinson Leads a Stunning, Enigmatic, SF …Beautifully shot and beguilingly constructed, High Life will linger in the mind and demand rewatches. … It’s a crazy genre exercise for Denis, and one of the most provocative and enigmatic films of the year.

Alliance of Women Film Journalists (TIFF18)

 Pattinson’s performance as his daughter grows older across the film as it provides the backstory of what has led him to this situation in large part provides High Life’s strong heart and deep intelligence, and his much-anticipated collaboration with revered French director Denis has far exceeded its promise.

HighDefDigest (TIFF18)

Pattinson’s charisma goes a long way to charm, as does Binoche’s diabolical turn. Even if High Life doesn’t make much sense, and doesn’t come across nearly as clever as it pretends to be, it’s still on its own terms a weird little film worthy of watching …

Film Inquiry (TIFF18) *Contains Spoilers*

As Denis weaves this humanist message into the sparse setpieces, which bathe in lambent teal and orange tones, and the remarkably adroit special effects, which she never overuses, she creates a work that is immediately bold and enduring. A work, moreover, that can sit proudly alongside her other masterpieces, as it offers the same marvelous deployment of sensorial and intellectual bravado that only she knows how to perfect.

MUBI (TIFF18) *Contains Spoiler*

I might choose High Life‘s beguiling unevenness as a more seductively provocative viewing experience, betraying expectations, challenging norms, and leaving us bewildered but thrilled.

VOX (TIFF18)

Robert Pattinson leads a cast that also features Mia Goth and Juliette Binoche, and gives a performance that’s equal parts unexpected and tender. All told, the film is confounding but wholly original.

Let The Movie Move Us (TIFF18)

It was interesting to see the Pattinson-Denis-Binoche collaboration. Pattinson manages to handle some physically and even mentally challenging scenes while his Monte does what we expect from his nothing-to-lose personality. Overall, “High Life” is a highly intelligent movie that creates its own space and zone only specific viewers are allowed to enter.

In the Seats (TIFF18)

Pattinson holds down the ensemble with an exceptionally stoic performance of a man on the edge …

Birth.Deaths.Movies (TIFF18) *Contains Spoiler*

Thank our stars for Robert Pattinson, once again demonstrating … a willingness to use his celebrity to uplift interesting projects and filmmakers. High Life will certainly certainly perplex traditional R-Pattz fans – but for those of us captivated by his second coming, it’s a wild and visionary ride.

College Movie Review (TIFF18)

Stuck within the disappointing film rests two positive: Pattinson’s committed performance and a haunting score by composer Stuart A. Staples.  [NOTE:  Did not like the film other than for Rob’s performance “Outside of this, High Life is a film that Denis fans will need to watch if only to appreciate her earlier work.  This one, unfortunately, is a complete misfire.”]

SYFYWire (TIFF18)

Pattinson has become a go-to indie star for eclectic directors and stories seemingly oppositional to movie-stars like Pattinson. High Life is no exception, and while it’s understandable why any actor would love to work with Denis, the film itself proves to be a frustrating experience, albeit a fascinating one.

Film Freak Central (TIFF18) *Contains Spoilers*

High Life is indeed a Claire Denis film. A step removed from the spoiler-saturated breathlessness of the first hot takes, one finds something every bit as rattled and mournful a late work as Paul Schrader’s First Reformed, and, like Trouble Every Day, no less structurally elusive or visceral than the rest of her oeuvre for being a work of genre.

Ostrocines (SSIFF18)

Is High Life a masterpiece?  No, because not everything works organically, fluently, but it is one of the most stimulating spatial odysseys in a long time … and it has Robert Pattinson (another who has decided to play first with the best filmmakers available … it is appreciated that the cinema can still give movies like High Life.

Cineuropa (SSIFF18) *contains spoilers*

High Life is an incontestable triumph … In short, we are facing an amazing journey through outer space in the hands of one of the most unique and personal filmmakers in today’s film scene. Filled with images of overwhelming powCer, High Life does not hide its weapons at any time, it opens wide before the public, inviting it to enjoy a suffocating and liberating experience.

Film Comment (Film of the week leading to NYFF18) *CONTAINS SPOILERS*

For now, I’ll settle for saying that the shock and richness of High Life are wonderfully enchanting and perplexing, and that even if much of the film seems to re-map familiar territory, it does so in unfamiliar ways; its DNA, let’s say, is substantially but subtly deviant.

Fotogramas (Beatriz Martinez Gom) (SSIFF18)

Claire Denis reformulates the space opera from her particular vision
#HighLife is one of those immeasurable works that reflects on the human condition. Risky and disturbing in form and depth especially when it comes to talking about the flesh, desire and violence. Beautiful and hypnotic

Fotogramas (Carlos Loureday) (SSIFF18)

Juliette Binoche and Robert Pattinson are not only good, but very well, for the roles they have to defend.

El Mundo (SIFF18) *contains spoilers*

Claire Denis surpasses and annihilates all expectations with a prodigious, uncomfortable and fascinating spatial parabola with classic manners instantly

Caimán Cuadernos de Cine (SIFF18)

High Life is a brave and risky foray into the territory of dystopian science fiction, which its director unceremoniously strips away all the usual topics and servitudes of the genre to submerge, without network and with exemplary audacity, in an exploration that, at times, is truly fascinating (thanks to a formal intensity and a work with textures more than remarkable) and that, in other occasions, it is almost orthopedic, capricious in its changes of point of sight and even flat in some sequences.  Face and cross of one of the most courageous and original works of the official section.  [Google translation]

Bangkok Post (TIFF18)

Let’s hope the film will come to one of the film festivals here, or perhaps to Alliance Française. Claire Denis’ science-fiction is an event-horizon adventure like no other … his is a visceral, feverish alter-ego of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, made with relish by a true French master. 

Film Inquiry (Benjamin Wang) (NYFF18)

I do think High Life is a success, and a creative one at that. And while a film being thought-provoking may not be a good enough standard by which to evaluate it, it is, perhaps, a good enough reason to go see it.

Dustin Chang (NYFF18) *Contains Spoilers*

It has sharp edges like her other films. And It’s those ecstatic moments, like in many of her other films – [spoilers] – that puts High Life very much in the top tier of all Claire Denis-ean film.

Splash Report (NYFF18)

Indeed, both Pattinson and Binoche give arguably career best performances, the first determined if sullen, the second aggressive and grotesque. Both were born to play these roles.

Reverse Shot (NYFF18)

[T]he film’s star, Robert Pattinson (continuing to bolster his art cinema bona fides following recent collaborations with David Cronenberg, James Gray, and the Safdie brothers) … We’ve watched in recent years as Pattinson’s skills have been salvaged and enriched by a roll call of celebrated auteurs, but few have subverted the actor’s presence and persona to such a perverse degree as Denis. In her hands, Pattinson’s body is reduced to its component parts, his face, eyes, and close-cropped hair severe with spartan detail, his arms and legs bastardized tools with which to stave off the inevitable.

sgianfer (letterboxd) (ZFF18)

Robert Pattinson shows as in good time what a brilliant actor he is and he will not be considered as in Good Time at all awards, because High Life is too special. (Google translate)

All Arts (NYFF18)

[I]t is Pattinson’s enigmatic performance that weaves the narrative of the film, sowing the loneliness that pushes it forward. 

Far Out Magazine (NYFF18) *contains spoilers*

[Pattinson] does an excellent job with a difficult and complicated role. Combined with a strikingly original script by Claire Denis and her longtime co-writer, Jean-Pol Fargeau, in collaboration with horror screenwriter Geoff Cox (Evolution), the result is something strange, intense, frightening, moving, and entirely new. Sci-fi may never be the same. (Rating 4.5 stars out of 5)

Showbiz411 (NYFF18)

In “High Life,” Pattinson plays a role he’s never done: space dad. There are wonderful scenes in the beginning of the film with him and a baby and they have a terrific rapport.

Kinoscope (NYFF18)

The scenes shared by Pattinson and the infant actor are positively remarkable, never once shattering the delicate suspension of disbelief despite the immense challenge of conveying an elaborate narrative with the unwitting participation of an actual child. As their unlikely father-daughter relationship develops, Monte’s own personal trauma starts to reveal itself through Pattinson’s nuanced performance …

TV & Film Guy (NYFF18)

Pattinson is incredible in his portrayal.  He spends a good portion of the film either on screen by himself or with an infant, surely no easy task, but he still enthralls.  He is completely captivating, winning over the audience to this (formerly) bad guy with apparent ease.

Narrative Muse (NYFF18)

Each sequence and element is richly layered, atmospheric, and felt as if creepy poison ivy was winding its way around my leg. Most especially, the music by Stuart Staples (longtime collaborator of Denis) is haunting and memorable, and works in tandem with spot-on lighting and costumes in a way that really made me feel like I was on the ship with these characters – who, I might add, are portrayed robustly by Pattinson, the magnificent Juliette Binoche (Let the Sunshine In, Ghost in the Shell), and others.

Filmstarts (Germany)

Robert Pattinson has collaborated with an impressive catalog of author filmmakers in recent years…but he has long been one of the outstanding mimes of his generation. Denis leads him to his most enigmatic performance so far.

Vague Visages (NYFF18)

Denis’ approach resembles that of Pattinson’s performance: pointedly pared down to the bare minimum without fully untethering from recognizable humanity. Whether that’s enough for each individual viewer likely depends on how much of themselves they can project in to fill the intentional gaps — or simply admire Denis’ observations in the abstract.

BBC Culture (UK)

High Life is provocative, eerie and above all weird. But even at its most willfully enigmatic it is anchored in this world by Pattinson’s terrific, humane, understated performance.

The Berkshire Edge (NYFF18)

But with the excellent British actor Robert Pattinson, she gets the faultless American speech she wanted

Zicma (France)

And to defend her story, Claire Denis opted for a casting as varied as Robert Pattinson or Juliette Binoch. Both actors are incredible in the film

Cinea (Belgium) *CONTAINS SPOILERS*

MAJOR High Life shows how inescapable the tight grip of desire is, even when it’s drained of its lively fluids.

The Cliffhanger & Co Chronicles (France)

Pattinson , it is no longer a question of proving it, is excellent, in a partition at once clear and primitive

Courte Focale (France)

Robert Pattinson is always more fabulous from one film to another…

NY Review of Books (US)

I like watching Pattinson, and there is something interesting about the kind of fatherhood he represents—a stay-at-home, co-sleeping millennial dad, he’s the opposite of the stoic, remote Armstrong. He’s an involved father, loose and affectionate with the baby. Pattinson has said that he had planned to be more tense and stern in his performance, but, on set with an actual baby, he had no choice but to be loving. 

Pix Geeks (France) *contains spoilers*

With this role, the actor delivers an impeccable performance from end to end … 

Le Polyester (France)

High Life is a reverie and a wanderer. The film has this somnambulist elegance, sprinkled here and there with astonishing visions, then strange expectations.  … This is true again for this bewitching, disconcerting and unique experience.

Blogbusters (Zurich FF)

The film is not only supported by a captivating and aestheticized cinematography by Denis, but also by the strong theatrical achievements of Robert Pattinson, who last shone with his outstanding performance in 
Good Times (2017) of the Safdie Brothers …

DansTonCinema (France – FestivalLumiere)

The new film by Claire Denis #HighLife with Robert Pattinson and Juliette Binoche. Hard to have the clear ideas (lol) in front of this hypnotic trip. Remains an excellent photograph and a duo of actors at the top. 7/10 

Fucking Cinephiles (France)

Juliette Binoche and Robert Pattinson are brilliant

Book My Show

With extremely minimal dialogue, Robert Pattinson performs a complex and distinctive role as Monte. He has genuine moments of chemistry and connection with the unbelievably natural infant actress Scarlett Lindsey

Nashville Scene (NYFF18)

[Denis] films are tactile landmarks, engaging with more senses than should be physically able. This one was quite divisive among my colleagues, though I found it entrancing, gross, moving and deeply insane.

Good Taste Police (France)

In addition to the advantageous use of the best actor of his generation – Robert Pattinson … Assuming her radicalism and her modesty as a cerebral author, Claire Denis thus manages to surpass the lack of financial means to deliver an artistically coherent and ambitious work in the themes she addresses, halfway between Alien 3 and Solaris. 
We come out haunted by some very disturbing plans and other visions absolutely fascinating. (4 out of 5 stars)

Silence Moteurs Action (France) *CONTAINS SPOILERS*

Claire Denis disrupts the codes of science-fiction film and appropriates them for a profoundly nihilistic and confusing human adventure, masterfully led by Robert Pattinson.

Le Bleu du miroir (France)

High Lifenever seems determined to leave viewers completely aside, exploring enough themes and staging ideas to resonate here and there in everyone.

Slate (France)

The  way of inhabiting Robert Pattinson’s narrative is a descent into his body and mind, a descent that continually increases the magnetic power of his character, becoming himself a kind of psychic black hole, which can to little orbit all the unfolding of the story.

Libération (France) *Contains spoilers*

A hallucinated and visceral masterpiece in the tradition of the great films of the genre. … One of them, Monte, is played with calm and austerity by Robert Pattinson

Martha’s Film Corner (Cologne FF) *Contains Spoilers*

Robert Pattinson is the leading actor of this space adventure. He’s a single parent, tormented by solitude and the necessity of staying sane. In that, the British actor performed well. 

Hoje Vi(vi) um Filme (LEFFEST Portugal) *CONTANS SPOILERS*

Already the protagonist, Robert Pattinson is the restrained Monte , as paternal and caring as resigned to his fate. Your self-discipline helps you deal with the past that haunts you and the present that is an unexpected challenge. The actor continues to be able to face all kinds of roles. (8 out of 10)

MHD (LEFFEST Portugal) *CONTAINS SPOILERS*

High Life ” takes Robert Pattinson and Juliette Binoche into space in the company of a baby and Claire Denis’s wicked and brilliant imagination

Scotches (France) *Contain Spoilers*

A father not devoid of flaws, embodied by a perfect Robert Pattinson, like a management of actors particularly mastered …

Das Film Feuilleton (Germany)

There are only a few pictures to be seen this year in the cinema, which summarize the nature of science fiction film so overwhelming.

Best Movie (TFF36 – Italy)

A masterpiece on how little we know, basically, of cruelty, about cannibal love and its flattery. 

Gay City News (US)

Pattinson’s performance brings out his character’s delicacy, which does not cancel out his character’s darker side. (Pattinson even sings the song, written by Denis’ usual composer Stuart Staples, that plays over the closing credits.) The longer “High Life” goes on, the more we realize how much we don’t know about Monte.

The New Yorker (US)

“I chose abstinence over indulgence,” he says, and Pattinson is so fiercely ascetic in the role that, were it not for Monte’s gentleness toward Willow, you might mistake him for an android stowaway. 

LA Weekly (US)

What saves the film from utter nihilism is the hope embedded in some gravely beautiful images of father and daughter bound together as they traverse the unknown and eventually enter the void. 

Flickering Myth (US)

Robert Pattinson continuing his string of excellent independent works, receiving what might be his most morally complex character yet this time around

AZCentral (US)

Pattinson, who continues to explore indie filmmaking, hits another high note in a role that originally was intended for Philip Seymour Hoffman.

SF Crowsnest (US)

Pattinson breaks new ground here while projecting his character Monte as a self-examining wanderer trying to evaluate his tortured livelihood on and away from Earth’s confines. It is a textured performance for the actor that has taken on some cinematic risks …

Den of Geek (US)

Pattinson is impressive in the center of the film, not saying all that much but using his eyes and body language to convey Monte’s transformation from resigned, cynical prisoner to loving father.

812 Film Reviews (US)

Through it all, Pattinson is the film’s energy core in another tour de forceperformance. Few actors are as capable of tenderness and impulsive rage as him. Pattinson, as has been said before, has crafted a stellar and chameleon-like career. 

Time Out (US)

Sparse in dialogue, High Life demands unrelenting restraint from Pattinson, whose Monte, an off-kilter ascetic, is fascinating. 

Entertainment Weekly (US)

High Life is, at turns, gorgeous, ridiculous, and confounding. Yet, the more you wrestle with it, the more it haunts you. As for Pattinson, who commits as fully as ever, he can rest easy knowing that he’s left his audience another riddle to chew on. B–

Robert Ebert (US)

And it’s yet another feather in the cap of its star, Robert Pattinson, who has become one of the most reliably intense yet unaffected leading men in cinema

The Filtered Lens (US)

Pattinson gives a strong performance, showing again after Good Time that he isn’t just a serious actor, but one unafraid of challenging himself by working with challenging filmmakers, but the script doesn’t really let him make the connection with the audience until the very end.

Battleship Pretension (US)

Robert Pattinson’s gift as an actor is that he doesn’t just imply, with his bearing and the architectural wonder of his face, that his characters have a subconscious; he does so in such a way that we think we’ve noticed it before he has. He doesn’t just have a relationship with the audience, he has individual relationships with each member of it. This sense of intimacy is probably what has inspired so much devotion among his fans. It’s also what makes him perfect for Claire Denis’ High Life, a movie so forthrightly intimate and closely studied that Pattinson need only color a few hairs gray to suggest the passage of the years over which it takes place.

We Live Entertainment (US)

There is more to dig into, but it says a lot that Pattinson makes so much of this film work. … As the lead in Denis’ first English-language film, Pattinson does what’s needed to move with the current of the film being made here, allowing his face to do so much work in responding to what’s taking place at various times in this non-linear film.

NPR (US)

Pattinson is terrific in this, playing Monte as someone who’s practiced at the art of concealing his true soul from the world.

The Wrap (US)

Observing humanity’s disintegration from a cool distance, refusing to intervene on behalf of the virtuous, Denis lets her people drift. So it’s appropriate that, as space battles between good and evil go, her murderous mom and penitent dad locked in mutually assured destruction is the flip side of an epic “Star Wars”-like clash. Instead she gives us an intimate struggle for, if not victory, then a few more moments of peace and quiet before the inevitable end.

Reeling Reviews (US)

Denis, who had originally envisioned Philip Seymour Hoffman for her Monte, Pattinson, thinking him too young and beautiful, but the actor’s unshowy, gentle performance grounds the film, the perfect foil for Binoche’s witchy madness

The Verge (US)

High Life isn’t so swamped by oppressive emotion that all hope is eclipsed, too. At a time when the Earth itself seems to be hurtling toward doom, the presence of genuine wonder and new life in the film carries a sliver of optimism. In the face of the void, in the farthest reaches of outer space, humanity persists.

Time Magazine (US)

Pattinson’s face alone is a star map of tenderness, suspicion and ruthlessness. In this sometimes alienating movie, he lays a trail for us to follow, sticking close by our side right to the end.

New York Times (US)

Pattinson’s vivid presence and intimate voice-over help shape a movie that often feels on the verge of disintegrating. He keeps you watching, 

The Atlantic (US)

But the film is also a surprising departure for Denis in a number of ways: It’s her first science-fiction movie, it’s entirely in English, and it’s her first collaboration with Pattinson, a marquee idol who has transformed into one of art cinema’s most exciting presences in recent years.

Rolling Stone (US)

As the vampire stud of the Twilight franchise, Robert Pattinson hit multiplex paydirt. Since then, he’s been raising his personal bar in the indie sphere (Good Time, Damsel). The star does himself proud in this elusive but bracing brainteaser from Claire Denis, the great French filmmaker (Beau Travail, Trouble Every Day) who’d much rather challenge audiences than coddle them.


The Cruel

Cinemalogue (TIFF18) *CONTAINS SPOILERS*

Patricia Arquette reportedly dropped out of the project in late 2017, leaving no one else to anchor this aimless and tone-deaf picture.  … Only Pattinson, who won accolades for his performance in last year’s critical favorite GOOD TIME, is a native English-speaker.  So it makes the acting imbalance difficult to judge.

Dwight Brown Ink (TIFF18)

Veteran French director Claire Denis (Chocolat) marks her first English language film with a snore of sci-fi thriller that sucks the life out of you like a black hole. Cheap looking sets and costumes stop this odd, erotic space odyssey from reaching its final destination.

Decine21 (SSIFF18)

Pretentious film, with an air of expressing something important about the human condition, see its interstellar ending, it is really a rather hollow and expendable tape. Although Robert Pattinson occupies most of the footage, and the boy tries hard, his character does not give much, the truth is that the comparisons are odious …

Film Threat (NYFF18) *CONTAINS SPOILERS*

For the pure boldness of not fitting into any box, High Life gets one star.  I just wish there was enough here to award 9 more.

The Observer (NYFF18)

An unwatchable sci-fi creep-out by eccentric French director Claire Denis, it stars Robert Pattinson, who devotes himself these days to art films in an effort to live down his reputation as a sexy television vampire. (Did anyone see him miscast as Lawrence of Arabia in Werner Herzog’s Queen of the Desert?) 

OutNow (Switzerland)

 A boring and pretentious art sculpin in sci-fi garb, which despite a few sprawling sex scenes and just because of its hypnotizing staging is a suitable remedy for insomnia.

Universal Movies (TFF36 – Italy)

The actors are listless and atoni, in particular Juliette Binoche who engages in a couple of scenes that border on the cult.  Passable Robert Pattinson who continues his path of departure from Twilight . 


The WTF Did I Just Watch

BriefTake (TIFF18)

That’s not to say Denis’ film is scattershot. In fact, with Pattinson, she’s found a brave star by which to guide her story. … High Life sings at a register beyond the explainable. I can admit, it didn’t quite reach me, but I can acknowledge the range. I didn’t grasp 2001: A Space Odyssey and Solaris the first time I saw them either. So, yeah, heads up. (3.5 stars from 5)

The Monthly (TIFF18)

So far, my feeling (ha!) about High Life is that it’s good, but not great..I need to see it again … and maybe one more time after that. I want to think about it, live with it; I need time.

Not Even Wrong (NYFF18)

I can’t really recommend this film to the average viewer seeking enlightenment or entertainment. On the other hand, if you’re looking for something unrelievedly grim, grotesque and disturbing, and really like black holes, maybe you should check it out.

Next Best Picture (NYFF18)

THE GOOD – 
A profound, brutal meditation on a liminal state of being, ambitiously executed as a risky, conceptually difficult science fiction story. 

THE BAD – Provocative and ambitious as it may be, the heady concerns might prove impenetrable to viewers, who will likewise be baffled or turned off by the jilted non-linear narrative and bizarre characterizations.​

THE OSCARS PROSPECTS – None

THE FINAL SCORE – 7/10

Cine Maltido (SIFF18)

A story that references and evokes a multitude of classic and recurrent ideas of science fiction to reduce them to the most primordial and dirty, subverting all humanist approximation from a terrifyingly equidistant perspective on science or Technology Used. [Google translate]

CA Noticias (LEFFEST Portugal)

It’s one of those films that are able to reach audiences in different ways: many people will like it, others will hate it, and many will wish they’d never seen it.

  • Paul
    Posted on November 18, 2018

    I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I will. I’ve read all the reviews, and have listened to the interviews with Denis and Pattinson, Some people see meaning to it, some don’t. I find it strange that reviewers who gave bad reviews can live with the degradation of our society on every level, the senseless deaths by psychopaths with guns, human brutality, and the way women have been treated, yet they are outraged by the movie High Life that might give insight into the degradation of life right here on earth, and the importance of improving all facets of life before it sinks into an abyss.

  • Maria
    Posted on November 20, 2018

    So true @Paul – its a completely valid point.

  • Leave a Reply



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    The Batman Role: Bruce Wayne | Batman
    Director: Matt Reeves
    Release Date: 1 October 2021. Filming commenced 27 Jan 2020 | Filming suspended 14 March 2020 due to COVID-19. Production rumoured to recommence 6 July 2020. Stay tuned for DCFanDome with exclusive content - 22 August 2020



    Tenet Role: TBA
    Director: Christopher Nolan
    Release Date: 12 August 2020 unless COVID-19 spikes



    Waiting for the Barbarians Role: Warrant Officer Mandel
    Director: Ciro Guerra
    Release Date: World Premiere Venice FF 6 Sept 2019 | Opening film Cartagena FF 11 March 2020. Releasing digitally in US on 7 August 2020



    The Devil All the Time Role: Preston Teagardin
    Director: Antonio Campos
    Release Date: Rumoured to be releasing on Netflix Spring/Summer 2020.



    The Stars at Noon Role: TBA
    Director: Claire Denis
    Release Date: 2021 - Pre-Production: 18 February 2020 (Rumoured to be filming September 2020 in South America).


    The Lighthouse Role: Ephraim Winslow
    Director: Robert Eggers
    Release Date: Screening at TIFF Sept 2019 | US 18 Oct 2019 - DVD releases at Film Page - click News below



    The King Role: The Dauphin of France
    Director: David Michôd
    Release Date: World Premiere (Out of Competition) Venice Film Festival 2019 2 Sept 2019 | Now on Netflix.



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