Time Out says
A haunting, dreamlike and visually stunning story of mothers and sons
Lucile Hadzihalilovic’s unforgettably unsettling new film, ‘Evolution’, is set on an island somewhere off the coast of France. This is a place where single women raise a generation of young boys without fathers (nowhere to be seen). During the days, the boys go swimming. At night, their mothers feed them a mush of squid ink and inject their skinny arms with a vile sleep-inducing goop they call ‘medicine’. One evening, a curious kid called Nicolas (Max Brebant) dodges his dose, slipping out of the house he shares with his mum (Julie-Marie Parmentier). He follows her to the beach, and that’s when things start to get weird.
It’s been a decade since Hadžihalilović’s first film, 2005’s ‘Innocence’, and it seems as though she has been hoarding her nightmares ever since. Tense with terror and told with abstractly beautiful imagery across long stretches of wordless quiet, ‘Evolution’ watches its dark and mysterious world with the same curiosity that keeps Nicolas awake at night.
The movie flirts with the outline of a proper plot, but the answers to its dramatic questions sink to the ocean floor. If ‘Evolution’ has a theme running through it, it’s the way Hadžihalilović strips male bodies of their autonomy. The women here are sirens with secret agendas and the film’s most gruesome moments work by forcing the anxieties of childbirth upon a gender that usually has the luxury of ignoring them.
By the end of this ominous lullaby, it’s clear that the film isn’t a puzzle meant to be solved – it’s a return to childhood, to a time when there was no clear boundary between imagination and reality, when everything you didn’t understand was beautiful and terrifying in equal measure
Cast and crew