Yeah, sure, fine, Ryan Gosling left Earth and is getting heaps of praise for it, but an extremely on-brand Robert Pattinson is leaving the solar system. In the first trailer for the Chocolat director Claire Denis’s upcoming English-language feature debut, High Life, Pattinson—as well as a cadre of convicts played by André 3000 and Mia Goth, among others, and a doctor played by Juliette Binoche—are blasting out of the atmosphere, heading toward a black hole and, possibly, something more nefarious. It’s an erotic thriller set on a doomed spaceship. Need we say more?
“Since we left the solar system, radio silence,” Pattinson begins narrating at the beginning of the trailer. “Almost all of us are still alive.” Ominous. He wanders the corridors of the spaceship, plays with a baby, lies in bed looking angsty. Then, he starts to explain what’s really going on: “We were scum, trash, refuse that didn’t fit into the system,” he says, “until someone had the bright idea of recycling us to serve science.”
That someone, it seems, is Juliette Binoche, who plays Dr. Dibs, who’s accompanying the load of death-row inmates on a one-way journey into a black hole. On the way, though, the deranged doctor—herself a violent criminal, according to IndieWire’s review—takes to conducting bizarre fertility experiments on the passengers. (“Why do you keep taking their sperm?” someone asks her at one point.) Meanwhile, the ship keeps trudging along toward the black hole.
The film has been long awaited—not least by Barry Jenkins, the director of Moonlight and If Beale Street Could Talk and a self-professed “Claire Denis stan.” Zadie Smith was, at one point, attached to script it; the artist Olafur Eliasson designed the spaceship. The trailer gives us just enough to get the gist of the film without really telling us what it’s all about. (It gets a bit jargony at moments—“We had to begin the deceleration maneuver so the ship could approach a black hole,” Pattinson narrates at one point—but then again, we’re probably not in a galaxy far, far away anymore.) There’s creepy neon lighting, a creepier score, and, apparently, something called “the fuckbox.” And eventually, Pattinson is the only one left.
Also, somewhere in the middle of the trailer, Binoche says, “I know I look like a witch.” Well, it’s a good moment for witchery.