It’s not often a film appears that I struggle to enjoy but unfortunately Evolution, directed by Lucile Hadzihalilovic, is one such title that I just didn’t get along with. Obviously make your own judgement, because it’s definitely one that will stick with you, but that’s for both positive and negative reasons.
Nicolas (Max Brebant) lives on an beautiful island, along with his mother – La mère (Julie-Marie Parmentier) – and a large group of young boys and their mothers. From the off there’s no sign of any grown men – strange. One day Nicolas goes swimming and makes a discovery, which La mère and the others ignore. As a curious young boy he wants to find out why they’ve shrugged it off, as well as where the mothers disappear off to at night.
However, when he’s caught in the act of peeking he’s sent off to the local hospital – again, staffed only by women – where he’s poked and prodded. Why does he need these procedures? What do they amount to?
There’s no denying that Evolution is a beautiful film, especially in terms of its cinematography and editing. An amalgamation of long, sweeping shots of the scenery and takes underwater, contrasted with claustrophobic scenes in the rundown hospital, the film is a blend of stunning visuals with an unnerving undertone.
With that being said, the story’s ambiguous nature just leaves you feeling confused and uncomfortable. The little dialogue included doesn’t make the story clear enough at times, so pay attention. Also, the underlying themes of feminism, patriarchy and (possibly) the Oedipus complex just make the viewer feel…odd.
However, I’ll give Evolution what it’s due. Stunning in terms of what we see, its fantastical plot will leave you a little on edge, coming away with the feeling you’re not quite sure what you’ve just witnessed.
Evolution is available on DVD from Monday 20th June 2016.