ÉVOLUTION (France | Belgium | Spain/TBC/81mins)
Directed by Lucile Hadzihalilovic. Starring Max Brebant, Roxanne Duran, Julie-Marie Parmentier, Mathieu Goldfeld, Nissim Renard.
THE PLOT: The only residents in the town where young Nicolas (Max Brebant) lives are women and young boys. After he sees a dead body in the ocean while swimming, Nicolas begins to question things he always took for granted; why must he take medicine when he doesn’t feel unwell, why are all the boys hospitalised and where does his mother go every night.
THE VERDICT: Lucile Hadzihalilovic’s 2004 film ‘Innocence’ focused on female sexuality, and so ‘Évolution’ feels like a companion piece of sorts, since it focuses on the reproduction of this mysterious species through the male. The film is beautifully and bleakly shot, with the ocean playing a huge part in the lives of the inhabitants as well as the way the species reproduces. Sumptuous close up often strips back to bleak wide shot, giving the film a disconcerting feel.
The cast of the film is made up of Max Brebant as Nicolas, Roxane Duran as Stella; the nurse who takes pity on the young confused boy in her care, Julie-Marie Parmentier, Mathieu Goldfeld and Nissim Renard. Each performance is strong and layered, and each do well with underlining the strange and other worldly feel of the film without trying to give the audience answers.
Lucile Hadzihalilovic and Alanté Kavaïté’s film sets out to be strange and to set the audience on edge as we survey the strange world of the film, but although it obviously sets out to ask more questions than it answers, there is enough information given for the film to be satisfying, although perhaps not 100% understood; this is a story for the audience to engage with, rather than have everything explained to them.
In all, ‘Évolution’ is mesmerising and engaging, although sometimes slow to get to where it is going. This is a tale of another world that we don’t understand; yet we don’t have to be given all the facts to understand that all is not well here. The film is beautiful, bleak and challenging but doesn’t patronise the audience with simple or quick answers.
RATING: 4.5/5
Review by Brogen Hayes

Review by Brogen Hayes
4.5Beautiful & challenging
  • filmbuff2011

    As much as this reviewer loves world cinema, some of these films really stretch credibility and patience. Such is the case with French-Belgian-Spanish co-production Evolution, which promises much and delivers almost nothing.

    On a remote island, the only inhabitants are a group of young boys and their carers / guardians, a number of blank-faced nurses who maintain a watchful eye over them. The boys live under strict diets and are confined by their environment. Nicolas (Max Brebant) sees a dead body in the water, but nobody else believes him. They think he saw a starfish. Nicolas is convinced though and investigates further. One night, he sneaks out and sees something… strange. Meanwhile, his carer Stella (Roxane Duran) is conducting experiments on him and the other boys. Something to do with another, mutated lifeform…

    Where to start with Evolution… Well, on the plus side it’s beautifully and artfully shot by Manuel Dacosse. The most striking sequences are the ones shot underwater, which Dacosse and his director Lucile Hadzihalilovic have designed for maximum visual impact. It’s almost like another world down there in the depths. That’s where the good stuff stops, like a train running off the rails as it comes crashing into the terminal. For Evolution is so oblique and off-kilter that it’s hard to know what to make of it. Dialogue is stripped back to almost nothing, so the characters are merely cyphers. There’s no emotional response from these characters, so they’re not worth caring about. That’s fatal for any film expecting an audience to feel something.

    Then there’s the weird stuff… What is Stella, given that she has strange shapes on her back like the tentacles of an octopus? What’s with the weird experiments and mutated babies? Like the infuriatingly awful Upstream Colour, this is a film that denies its audience any real answers. Audiences don’t need to be spoonfed, but they do need some understanding as to what’s going on and if there’s some meaning to all of this. Hadzihalilovic hasn’t directed a film in over a decade and it shows. Her direction is amateurish and shows no signs of life. No wonder several people gave up on the film and walked out (this reviewer has a no-walkout policy though). Evolution is dead-on-arrival. The only good thing about it is the cinematography. Otherwise, this is pretentious French drivel. Avoid at all costs. *

  • moviegoer_ingrid

    This is an outstanding movie! Im not in love in such ci-production, but Kuvykin asked me to go to and I was impressed! I liked the leading man, he was so assertive while questioning! Thrilling movie that doesn’t allow to relax during the whole action!