Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around


Review: Evolution

10:10 AM on 11.23.2016 // Hubert Vigilla
  @HubertVigilla

Lingering, haunting, and yet

There's so much going for Lucile Hadzihalilovic's Evolution, a film expertly lensed from the deliberate first shot: looking up to the sky from underwater. From beneath, the ripples and waves on the ocean surface produce undulating shadows, a play of light and dark. We eventually leave the water for land and get slowly introduced to the strange, insular world for this work of body horror and dark fantasy, a place where everything seems so off and so mesmerizing all at once.

At its best, Evolution feels like a collaboration between David Cronenberg, H. P. Lovecraft, and Michelangelo Antonioni. It's sexually bizarre and clinical, it's eldritch and slimy and afraid of seafood, it's thematically and compositionally contemplative. Still, whatever spell Hadzihalilovic weaves early on unravels after a certain point. It's a deliberate move, and it's a frustrating one, and yet I think I'm okay with it, at least in concept.

[This review originally ran as part of our coverage of New Directors/New Films. It has been reposted to coincide with the theatrical release of the film.]

Evolution
Director: Lucile Hadzihalilovic
Release Date: November 25, 2016 (limited/VOD)
Rating: NR
Country: France

The world of Evolution is mysterious from the get go, which is due largely to the coastal locale where the film is set. We don't know what year it is, or quite where this place is either. It's all so otherworldly, the sort of setting for tales, allegories, and de Chirico paintings. There are white stucco buildings built near the water, and the sand is black leading to the turbulent shore. It's beautiful in how stark it is. In the distance, there's a medical facility that looks like it was abandoned years ago, but boys and their mothers walk back and forth for periodic examinations.

There are only grown women and young boys on this island. There are no men, there are no girls, and the mothers have a sinister uniformity about them. At night, the mothers leave their homes carrying hand lanterns and congregate near the water. The boys are just boys but are in the dark about their caretakers. The boys are raised on a diet of mashed kelp and something like worms, one of those foods that while heated in a saucepan still looks cold when it's served.

Evolution centers primarily on Nicolas (Max Brebant) and his mother (Julie-Marie Parmentier), and what Nicolas discovers about this town and where babies come from. We follow him into the night, down long corridors, to water in the dark, and in the process participate in the act of discovery, unwrapping the allegory along with Nicolas, sharing in his repulsion and curiosity.

Roughly midway through Evolution, this dive into the unknown slows, maybe too much for what's revealed about the mothers and their boys. Yet even what's revealed is just enough to suggest larger possibilities and delve deeper into the thematic territory of the movie--sex, childbirth, asexuality, violation, flesh, reproduction, biological processes. I sensed in the film's lull that Hadzihalilovic was signalling a move away from an explicit exploration of the plot and the machinery of the world to a series of ruminative brushstrokes, each one a deliberate move to the film's finale, which is more conceptual than visceral.

In the immediate aftermath of Evolution, I felt a little let down, expecting more of a resolution to what's introduced early on. Yet the movie has this strange, lingering quality thanks to its pervasive otherworldliness. I mentioned Lovecraft and Cronenbeg earlier, but Hadzihalilovic makes this movie her own, invested with unique hobbyhorses and a fascinating sensibility.

It's rare to see a movie that sticks around in your mind after an initial sense of disappointment. The fact I'm still thinking about Evolution, and deeper now than in the hours after the first viewing, have made me reevaluate Hadzihalilovic's languid pace, which unfolds with the same speed as a dream verging on a nightmare but never quite arriving there. Cinematographer Manuel Dacosse does a magnificent job in rendering these images and giving them such a haunting quality that I can't get several of them out of my head. Evolution's grown on me, like a skin graft or like coral, or maybe it's grown in me, like the stuff of recurring bad dreams.




THE VERDICT: 68/100

68
Evolution - Reviewed by Hubert Vigilla

Decent. Yes, this could have been better, but it is still worth your time.


Hubert Vigilla, Editor-at-Large
 Follow Blog + disclosure HubertVigilla Tips
Hubert Vigilla is a writer living in Brooklyn, which makes him completely indistinguishable from 4/5 of people who live in Brooklyn. He writes about film, television, books, music, politics, cu... more   |   staff directory





 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

Flixist's previous coverage:
Evolution


View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant
Ads on Flixist may be purchased from:



Please contact Crave Online, thanks!


Facts for Cricket Betting Online

Test

Benefits of Human Growth Hormones

The Power of Social Media for You Small Business

Five Reasons Why Slumber is Ideal for Your Fitness

Constantly on the Road? Use these 7 Best Apps for Watching Movies on your iPhone

Why I love Cinema

Best old movies you can watch on Netflix

Cricket Betting Tips Free For All By Cricket King

6 best TV series on Netflix

 Add your impressions


Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -