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Claire Denis
Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, André Benjamin
Writing Credits:
Claire Denis, Jean-Pol Fargeau

A father and his daughter struggle to survive in deep space where they live in isolation.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 113 min.
Price: $24.99
Release Date: 7/9/2019

• “Making High Life” Featurette
• “Visualizing the Abyss” Featurette
• Previews


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver;
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


High Life [Blu-Ray] (2019)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 15, 2019)

Despite a title that implies a story related to pot-smoking, 2019’s High Life instead offers a tale set in outer space. Authorities send death row prisoners on a mission to gather energy from a black hole.

This expedition spans many years, and eventually, only Monte (Robert Pattinson) and his daughter Willow (Jessie Ross) remain. The pair attempt to survive in the cold vastness of space.

It seems like just yesterday that Pattison first appeared in Twilight and became a tween idol. However, it’s been 11 years, and the actor turned 33 a few months ago, so the notion of Pattinson as a parent isn’t as odd as it sounds to those of us who still view him as teeny-bopper bait.

I like Pattinson’s refusal to follow the “brooding hero” path over all these years. Sure, he dabbles in that kind of role – and he’ll soon play Batman, the ultimate brooding hero – but he’s not taken the easy route to Hollywood fame and fortune.

As much as I respect Pattinson’s choices, this doesn’t mean all his projects succeed, and High Life becomes a sluggish dud. Largely a collection of cinematic influences crammed into one boring whole, the movie goes nowhere.

A glib summary of Life would be to call it Interstellar as directed by Terrence Malick. That sells the inspirations short, though, as one finds ample reflection of films like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Silent Running among others.

The Malick influence remains most prevalent, though, mainly because Life seems much more preoccupied with dreamy visuals than with storytelling. Whereas the plot synopsis I provided leads one to believe the film will give us a pretty straightforward A-to-B narrative, instead it jumps around a lot and doesn’t follow a connected line.

Indeed, the first 25 minutes of the film essentially offers a plot-free zone, as it mainly consists of formless interactions between Monte and infant Willow. We eventually learn some story beats, but the narrative remains loose much of the time.

I don’t need to be spoonfed to enjoy a movie, but I’d like something with a little more obvious story purpose than this. I get that director Claire Denis favors the mood over the tangible, but c’mon – throw us a frickin’ bone every once in a while!

Perhaps I’d like Life more if it lacked so many reflections of prior works. I already listed some, and if they so choose, viewers can play “Spot the Influence” as they watch.

Too much of Life just seems random and artsy without purpose. If you ever wanted to see a film in which a scarred Juliette Binoche rides a mechanical dildo for minutes on end while the camera bobs and weaves, High Life is the film for you!

For all its indie weirdness, High Life falters because it can’t back up its pretensions with substance. It maintains grandiose dreams of meaning and merit but it ends up as a slow journey to nowhere.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B-/ Bonus C

High Life appears in an aspect ratio of 1.66:1 on this Blu-ray Disc – mainly. The image opened to 1.85:1 at the end, but the vast majority of the film remained 1.66:1.

Life also came with varying film stocks, and those impacted quality. In particular, shots based on Earth used 16mm, so those looked softer and grainier than the rest of the movie.

Overall quality remained positive, though, as most of the flick seemed well-depicted. Occasional soft spots materialized but these remained modest.

No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I saw no edge haloes. Print flaws stayed absent.

Colors often embraced orange and teal, but a mix of greens and reds appeared as well. In the 16mm shots, these lacked vivacity, but they seemed pretty bold the rest of the time.

Blacks were usually deep and dense, while shadows offered appropriate delineation. This ended up as a largely positive presentation.

To my surprise, the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack felt fairly restrained, as the soundscape lacked ambition much of the time. Music spread to the five channels well and some of the more “action-oriented” broadened the sonic horizons.

However, effects usually stayed subdued. Even during some scenes that I expected to fill the surrounds, they tended to focus on the front channels.

Audio quality worked fine, with speech that seemed concise and natural. Music appeared full and rich.

Effects showed nice clarity and accuracy, with deep low-end when appropriate. The soundtrack sounded good but didn’t use the five channels as well as I anticipated.

Two featurettes appear, and Making High Life runs 18 minutes, 45 seconds. It provides comments from producers Andrew Lauren, DJ Gugenheim, Chrisoph Friedel and Oliver Dungey, co-writer/director Claire Denis, and actors Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, Mia Goth, Agata Buzek, Lars Eidinger, Gloria Obianyo, Andre Benjamin, and Claire Tran.

“Making” looks at the project’s path to the screen, story and characters, themes, cast and performances, and the work of director Denis. This turns into a reasonably informative reel.

With Visualizing the Abyss, we get an 11-minute, 15-second reel that features Friedel, Dungey, Benjamin, Pattinson, Lauren, Denis, Obianyo, Tran, Eidinger, physicist Aurelien Barrau and actor Jessie Ross.

“Abyss” covers sets and design choices as well as scientific elements. It becomes another useful view of the production.

The disc opens with ads for Gloria Bell, Climax, Under the Silver Lake and Mid90s. No trailer for Life appears here.

At its heart, High Life aspires to become 2001 for Millennials. Instead, it delivers nothing more than a sluggish, pretentious bore. The Blu-ray comes with generally positive picture and audio as well as a couple of decent featurettes. Somewhere hidden here, one might find a good movie, but this one becomes a snoozer.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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