Last fall, the occasional teaser coupled with the mostly positive response at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival and the director’s Vulture interview in which she referred to a chamber-like apparatus on display in the film as a “f–kbox” drummed up plenty of anticipation and intrigue for the film for months, but the official A24 trailer was just released on Wednesday morning.
In High Life, not only does Pattinson appear to be playing a lonely dad, he’s playing a lonely dad in outer space. Along with characters played by André Benjamin (better known as André 3000), and Mia Goth, Pattinson’s character (named Monte) participates in a study that allows a crew of criminals to travel to space. They mistakenly believe that this mission will free them of their crimes as they hurdle toward a black hole, but thanks to a study led by a scientist played by Juliette Binoche, the prisoners realize they have inadvertently signed up for various types of sexual experimentation (that’s where the “f–kbox” comes in to play) rather than the proposed idea of simply finding an alternative source of energy from the black hole. Eventually, somebody has a baby because of the forced experiments, and Pattinson has to take care of her before the spaceship becomes a mere blip.
High Life has been a long time in the making. In 2015, it was reported by Entertainment Weekly that Zadie Smith and Nick Laird were working on the screenplay, until Denis decided to go in a different creative direction and worked with screenwriters Jean-Pol Fargeau and Geoff Cox instead. While the director may be best known amongst American audiences for her debut film, Chocolat, which premiered in 1988, High Life is Denis’s first English-language film. It also marks a reunion between the director and her leading lady, as Denis recently worked with Binoche on her 2017 film Let the Sunshine In.
In an attempt to engineer an accurate (or mostly accurate) looking spaceship, the project tacked on Olafur Eliasson, a Danish-Icelandic artist who creates installations that reflect the relationship between science and art, to design the spacecraft. Of course, a black hole expert (and collaborator of Eliasson’s) named Aurélien Barrau has also consulted on the film.
“Break the laws of nature, and you’ll pay for it,” Pattinson says to the baby near the end of the trailer, which is an ominous-sounding threat that will surely drive audiences straight to the theater when the film is released on April 12.