High Life

High Life

****

Reviewed by: Darren Amner

Being an ex-con and reconnecting with society isn't an easy task, and for Dick (Timothy Olyphant) its proven to be quite the challenge. Going from job to job and cell to cell wasn't exactly the life he had set aside for himself - although he isn't helped by the people he chooses to associate with. Bug (Eric McIntyre) and Donnie (Joe Anderson) are a pair of regular offenders who Dick also calls his friends. These prison buddies share a common bond, a love for petty crime and a morphine addiction.

Upon release from prison after serving a recent stretch Bug comes to visit Dick at work, Dick is trying to come to terms with working a legitimate job but fails when Bug gets him fired. Finding himself back at square one, Dick needs some cash quick for his next fix and contemplates slipping back into his old ways in order to get his life back on track the only way he knows how.

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Inspired by hypochondriac pickpocket Donnie's latest scam, which is ripping off ATMs by stealing old ladies' bank cards, Dick hatches a plan to conduct a heist at the local bank to score big and keep him afloat for at least a year.

To seal the deal Dick needs a face, a charismatic front man to lead the charge inside the bank - a charmer who will get the job done. Enter Billy (Rossif Sutherland) a smooth-talking ladies' man with the gift of the gab and a smile that could light up a room.

So its the perfect plan, the team has been assembled and are ready to rock and roll, what they didn't allow for though was an employee in the bank who sets out to double cross our hapless hero's resulting in a very disorganised Plan B.

Timothy Olyphant is one of the most underused actors working today, never getting the roles he deserves. Olyphant has a great seductive charm which is perfect for the role of Dick, he also has impeccable comic timing and is the perfect choice as the gang ringleader. He is funny and heartbreaking in equal measure, especially when all he wants to do is carve a better life out for himself.

If Dick is the brains then Bug is the brawn, a sociopath and very unpredictable guy who's one of the main reasons why Dick is in as much trouble as he is. As Donnie, Joe Anderson has a lovable quality to him, a sweet guy who, like Dick, is a bit of a misguided soul. All of which leaves us with the final piece of the puzzle, Billy. If this film gets the wide release it deserves it will be a great showcase for the comparatively unknown Sutherland to display his talent to audiences. With imposing screen presence, a confident swagger and great heart you can't help but like Billy, though the cast are excellent most of the praise must go to director Gary Yates who has cast the roles eerily well.

You would never expect to like a film about drug addicts planning a heist, but it tears up any pre-conceived notions you might have. The theme is slightly odd for a comedy but this is its charm and sets it aside from other comedic offerings of late.

I love the film's message, which asks what you would do to make a better life for yourself and what lengths you would go in order to succeed? I'm not sure I'd like to spend my life being a drug-addict personally but I'd sure love to mix it up with these guys, because an hour and a half with them was an absolute blast!

I don't believe High Life has been picked up in the UK yet, but hopefully it will, as it deserves to be seen and its a film that highlights its director as a talent to watch.

Reviewed on: 09 Feb 2009
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Drug-addicted petty criminals try to pull off a major heist.

Director: Gary Yates

Writer: Lee MacDougall, Gary Yates

Starring: Timothy Olyphant, Stephen Eric McIntyre, Rossif Sutherland, Joe Anderson, Mike Bell, Sarah Constible, Leigh Enns, Aaron Hughes, Susan Kelso, Tracy McMahon

Year: 2008

Runtime: 80 minutes

Country: USA, Canada

Festivals:

BIFF 2009
EIFF 2009

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