Fantastic Fest, 2015
If empirical proof was needed to verify the adage that opposites attract, one could look at Lucille Hadzihalilovic’s “Evolution” – a stylistic 180° from the work of her partner, Gaspar Noë. While both are provocateurs in their own way, Noe loves to tout his virtuosity and flaunt his taboo breaking. In “Evolution,”Hadzihalilovic works in methods equally as disturbing and unnerving, yet she maintains a much more controlled temperament.
Her on-screen world is a sea of blues and greens along a waterfront town occupied only by young boys and women of maternal age. Young Nicolas begins to explore the mysteries of the island and question some of the oddities – the strange creatures in the sea, the unexplained medical treatment to which the children are subjected. As Nicolas begins the process of discovery, it is, to him, like a normal coming-of-age narrative. To his mother, however, the reaction to his inquiries takes a much stronger form.
“Evolution” keeps an even keel as it delves into the terrain of body horror and pre-adolescent malaise. But rather than foment dread, Hadzihalilovic primarily inspires ambivalence. Too many ambiguities go unexplored, which may stem from the film’s abbreviated runtime of just 81 minutes. The beautiful and oft-haunting imagery far too often are scares in search of a story. B- /