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'High Life' Stands Apart From Other Sci-Fi Movies, But It's Not Easy to Sit Through 

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Written and directed by Claire Denis, High Life offers a particularly esoteric take on the sci-fi genre. The movie focuses so much on character, you almost forget that it's taking place in outer space. But while the extremely violent and twisted film certainly stands apart from other movies in the genre, its depiction of human depravity (to what end, we're not really sure) makes it a tough one to sit through.

The film opens on Friday at the Cedar Lee Theatre and at Cinemark Valley View. 

The film centers on Monte (Robert Pattinson) and his baby daughter, the last survivors of a deep space mission with a crew of death-row inmates. They've been sent into space with no hope of ever returning to Earth. "Don't drink your own piss or eat your own shit," Monte tells the baby in one scene as he changes the kid's diaper. Shortly after that tender moment, we see Monte hoist the crew's dead bodies to an external doorway and dump them into the interstellar void.

Running on fumes, the ship can barely function, and Monte even has to manufacture his own replacement parts. He also takes drastic measures to keep from using all the remaining electricity.

In a series of flashbacks, we learn how things became so dire. The inmates were sent to space as guinea pigs for science. A particularly sadistic doctor (Juliette Binoche) keeps them heavily sedated as she conducts experiments on them. She also regularly masturbates on some kind of contraption that features a giant silver dildo and a harness and even hops atop Monte one night for a joy ride when he's passed out. She might be the most demented of the bunch.

Even though they've been sedated, the death row inmates still wreak havoc. They regularly get into brawls, and these scenes become particularly gruesome. The final scenes find Monte alone with his daughter as they head toward a particularly ominous black hole.

The press notes for the movie describe it as "a staggering and primal film about love and intimacy, suffused with anguished memories of a lost Earth." The anguish, however, comes on the part of viewers who have to endure the movie's scenes of rape and torture.


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