“High Life” – a well-made and brilliantly acted Science Fiction movie I wish I hadn’t watched.

“High Life” is marketed as arthouse science fiction: original, intense and challenging, with strong performances from Pattinson and Binoche.

The plot summary on IMDB was

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

The poster, showing the arm of an adult wearing a well-used spacesuit holding the tiny, naked, hand of an infant, looked arty and original. I was intrigued,

I watched the trailer below and thought: “High concept. Slightly dark. Confident, unconventional storytelling. I’ll go and see it.”

“High Life” turned out to be everything it was promised to be.

It was a high concept science fiction story, told at unhurried pace, with well-handled moves backwards and forwards on the time line. The music was disturbing without being intrusive. The camera work was intense and personal. The performances were all strong. Pattinson was outstanding, delivering some of the mostpowerful moments I’ve seen on film.

Yet I wish I had not seen this movie.

If I had known what I would be my asked to sit through, I would not have gone.

My first surprise was a masturbation scene with Juliette Binoche, in a room called “The Box”, hanging on to leather straps and riding a dildo-equipped saddle. This was joyless, transgressive sex that was shot almost lovingly and seemed to go on forever. While this was as uncomfortable as it was unexpected, it would not, alone, have made me regret watching the film.

It was the three rape scenes that killed the movie for me.

They were intense, realistic, well-acted, brilliantly filmed and filled me with rage.

I understand that they were central to the story. It’s just that, had I known that, I wouldn’t have wanted to watch this story.

After we got through the rapes, there was an attempt to inject hope into the movie through the relationship between Pattinson and his daughter but it was done with less confidence than the earlier scenes and left me unconvinced. The ending was so “high concept” I’m still not sure that I know what happened

I’m glad to have seen the parts where Pattison was working with the infant child. Those scenes were magical. Unfortunately, the rape scenes were equally memorable. That’s a sign of the director’s skill but it’s not something I’d have chosen to have in my head.

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