Evolution

 

starstarstar



Waters, actual and symbolical, play a major part in this unique film about a boy questioning his world.

 

Evolution

 
Those who saw Innocence, the 2004 debut feature of writer/director Lucile Hadžihalilović, will not be surprised to learn that this belated second feature by her is a work that is strongly atmospheric and highly original. But how satisfying that makes it is doubtless a matter of taste and the filmmaker herself has asserted that this new film leaves itself very much open to interpretation, her hope being that this will allow the film’s mysteries to remain longer with the audience. Not everybody will welcome that.

Evolution is set on an unnamed island (the location used was Lanzarote) and it is seen through the eyes of the leading character, the 10-year-old Nicolas played with great confidence by Max Brebant. Since at intervals the camera catches him waking up, the whole film could be taken as his dream - although nightmare might be the better word. Whatever your take on that, the film inhabits its own stylised world as the only inhabitants of the island are boys and women. The latter may be mothers or hospital staff, but in this well-cast film they are all sufficiently withdrawn to create a sense of unease. In John Wyndham’s The Midwich Cuckoos filmed in 1960 as Village of the Damned it was the children who were unsettling, proving to be not humans but an alien species. Here this seems to be reversed in that it is the adults who arouse our suspicions.

But Evolution is not a natural for the horror genre, and the alarming universe it creates suggests a stylised representation of a child’s fears about the adult world, one where so much is incomprehensible and where trust is demanded but may not be justified Sexual fears of an undefined kind may be in there too alongside  surgery to be endured, but as it develops Evolution becomes ever stranger and appears to express a female fantasy that posits an existence for women that is in one respect radically different from the one they inhabit now. Yet even this notion remains vague in its detail rather than defined. What is clear is that the film, admirably photographed in colour and ’Scope by Manu Dacosse, is a work that functions in visual terms making it pure cinema. The rating above reflects my own personal response, but the nature of this strange film is such that I can be certain that some will regard it as being too harsh and, perhaps rather more, as being too generous.

        

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Max Brebant, Roxane Duran, Julie-Marie Parmentier, Mathieu Goldfield, Nassim Renard, Nathalie Le Gosles, Pablo-Noé Etienne.


Dir Lucile Hadžihalilović, Pro Sylvie Pialat, Benoit Quainon and Jerome Vidal, Screenplay Hadžihalilović and Alanté Kavaïté  with Geoff Cox, Ph Manu Dacosse, Pro Des Laia Colet, Ed Nassim Gordji-Tehrani, Costumes Jackye Fauconnier.


Les Films du Worso/Noodles Production/Volcano films/Scope Pictures etc.-Metrodome Distribution Ltd.
82 mins. France/Spain/Belgium. 2015. Rel: 6 May 2016. Cert.
15.