Set in 1983, High Life is a slow-paced, low-key stoner sleeper hit. Although it’s labeled as a comedy, it explores a darker side of junkie life. Like there’s a brighter side of this lifestyle you might say but you know what I mean. The whole story reminded me of Bottle Rocket, only without drugs. And if you want something similar I recommend you check out Stuart: A Life Backwards. Based on a play written by Lee MacDougall this is an atmospheric and highly immersive movie. It will pull you into the world of these “losers” with great plans. They are always just one step from becoming rich or ending up in prison.
High Life is above all a character study, almost voyeuristic in nature as it reserves its judgment about everything that’s going on. It shows us a world we rarely see and how it works. Ever since I saw Trainspotting this was something that fascinated me. Mostly because when you read about these things the first thing that comes to your mind is what were they thinking? Well, now you’ll see what were they thinking.
I also couldn’t help but empathize with them and their plight. Addiction is a fucked up thing but so is our society. We won’t admit that we’re living in basically a tribal society that refuses to allocate resources to help addicts. They are deemed as damaged and simply inferior specimens, cast out in the secret eugenics project no one wants to talk about.
Dick uses morphine as a drug of choice. He works in a hospital, so that comes in handy with his addiction. But when his trigger-happy buddy from prison Bug visits him everything will start to fall apart. Now they have to come up with a scheme to get some money, and the opportunity presents itself in a form of an ATM machine. Dick gathers two more buddies to pull of this enterprise, but as you are about to see, this job will be very tricky to do.
Very different and conflicting personalities create situational humor that’s easygoing and the whole movie looks and feels sort of high. Like it just smoked a bunch of weed and it’s telling the story in a very calm and careful manner. Stephen Eric McIntyre and Timothy Olyphant played their parts pitch-perfect, which was incredibly important for the tone of the movie. With a runtime of just eighty minutes, High Life is a breezy stoner extravaganza well worth your time.
Director: Gary Yates
Writers: Lee MacDougall, Brad Caslor, Daniel Nemiroff, Marguerite Pigott, Maureen Dorey
Cast: Timothy Olyphant, Stephen Eric McIntyre, Rossif Sutherland, Joe Anderson, Mike Bell
Fun Stuff: The bank is Sturbucks in real life. Hughes, Griffith, Woytowich were all in a movie ATM together. High Life takes place in 1983 when ATM’S were just becoming popular and the ATM plays a part in the film’s plot.