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This movie is the equivalent of watching a famous painter perform his craft; you stand there, amazed at the beauty being demonstrated, and then when it's all over, you wonder, "What did he just paint?". I am all for films that make you think and create an ambiguous air in both storytelling and message, but this film is beyond absurd. The premise, the events that transpire throughout the movie, the lack of rhyme or reason as to why the events are taking place in the first place, etc. It was like a puzzle with not only missing pieces, but with each piece a part of a different puzzle. It's beautiful shot with some amazing cinematography, so be prepared to be amazed at some of the vistas shown throughout the film. But the movie just does not make any sense, and the ending does not clarify anything, nor does it bring it all together. Had it clarified some of the events, it actually would have been a great art film. As it stands, it's quite possibly the most nonsensical movie I have ever seen. I would not recommend watching it.
The sea makes you think all kinds of things. Beams of pale sunlight
below, the pounding surf, moonlight reflected on the surface to the end
of the horizon, shifting currents, peculiar sounds, brilliant colors
and eerie creatures. It is an ethereal and mysterious realm. When ten
year old Nicolas discovers the body of someone drowned, few take his
word for it. For when it comes to the dark and mysterious, the body is
just the tip of the iceberg. The remote seaside village in which
Nicolas lives is inhabited only by older women and boys. Nicolas and
his young companions are fed gruel, forced to swallow medicine when
none are sick, herded into dingy hospital rooms for unannounced and
unneeded surgeries, and treated with systematic contempt. These women
claim to care for the boys even when they obviously don't. Nicolas
suspects he is being lied to, so he attempts to discover more about his
captors and the circumstances he finds himself in. With his artistic
skills he attracts the attention of a sympathetic nurse who doesn't
much care for the scare tactics of her sisters.
Though extremely dark, the film is also beautiful. The beauty is haunting. There is not one explanation for what is happening to the boys, to the women and to the human species. Revenge for the misgivings, mistakes and arrogance of the male hierarchy may be involved, or, more likely, payback for our abuse of the earth and each other. The film is definitely outside the box. It is part of the Toronto International Film Festival's vanguard series (one of my favorite series). Part of what seduces me in this regard is that nothing of the director's vision is held back for fear of any censor. Maybe support of artists is peculiar to the French culture and I wish it was shared by my own. Don't expect to go right to sleep after watching this one! Seen at the Toronto International Film Festival 2015.
A young boy begins to wonder about the isolated community he has grown
up in; one populated only with boys his age and young women.
This French film is an example of a recent type of development that I have noticed in horror cinema in that it is a film that is played out in such a self-consciously arty style that it seems to think engaging with the audience may in actual fact be beneath it. The events depicted have some genuine potential but they are played out in such an overwhelmingly downbeat manner that their effect is seriously compromised. The tone of the film is more or less one note from start to finish, resulting in a pretty unsatisfying experience. This is an especial shame when the overall setting of the story and its enigmatic qualities are fairly promising. Details are not fully revealed about what is going on but this fact didn't concern me too much aspects such as the strange medical experiments and odd events that played out on the beach in the dead of night were intriguing. But the material was not served well in my opinion by the excessively po-faced execution and it was ultimately quite difficult getting very involved with the events that played out in this one.
This movie has stunning visuals. There are many beautiful scenes of the
ocean and the landscape as well as twisted scenes of an uncanny
hospital with exploitative practices. Past the visuals and a few
interesting interactions between characters, there is not much to this
movie at all. The movie is very strange right from the beginning, but
with no context. It has you asking a ton of questions and there is
build up/tension as the movie progresses, but in the end there is
hardly closure. None of the questions you might have been asking are
answered and there is no additional context from in the beginning. It's
just a bunch of weird stuff happening to kids with no explanation at
This movie seems to rely heavily on visuals or on being an "artsy" film rather than having an engaging or fulfilling story, obviously. I love movies that leave some things to interpretation and movies that feature metaphors that add to the complexity of the story, but Evolution just throws a bunch of context-less weird stuff at you and nothing else. Call me uncreative all you want, but when I watch a movie I don't want to have to make up nearly the entire story myself.
I am a sucker for good cinematography/visuals, but the movie has to be impressive in other ways too! This movie was very unsatisfying and it's sadly not the first movie I've seen like this.
Evolution looked interesting in the previews, which left me wanting to
see more. Sadly, after watching the movie, I was left feeling like I
had walked somewhere but stayed in the same place.
The movie is a very stylistic an artful rendering of some place near the water where children play and their mothers care for them. The strangeness of the place slowly (and I mean slowly) becomes obvious. We soon notice that there are no grown adult males, for instance. There is very little that I can say that will spoil the movie, but I will refrain from going into anything that might be construed as a plot element. Suffice it to say, the movie is about 90% ambiance, with some beautiful shots. The underwater shots contrastingly more beautiful than the starkness and dullness of the village life. There were shots in which I measured a character literally staring at the lens for nearly one minute - and yes, I looked at my watch.
Evolution is, sadly, like riding in a beautiful elevator with some soothing background music playing through ceiling-mounted speakers. We feel like we are enveloped in the ambiance of that moment, staring in the same direction as everyone else. We may or may not notice the music, the ornate trim, or the polished floor. We just want to get to our floor. Or, perhaps, if it takes too long, we may consciously notice what song is playing. Nevertheless, at the end, the doors open and we get out, the elevator not leaving any impression on us. It got us somewhere, but we don't care, we are here where we always thought we would be, no thanks to the elevator. That is Evolution, a mildly satisfying piece of semi-conscious background images and sounds that dumps us at the end of the ride and lets us go on with our lives - we don't know if we liked it, it was beautiful but we are indifferent and only thankful that we did not go crashing, because it could have been worse.
OK, so where was I going before? .... oh yes, here is my floor.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It could have been a rare modern masterpiece, IMO if they could have
put little more explanations about what's actually really going on in
that island?! The film indeed offers a very unique set up with a
beautiful sea side European island (kinda reminded me of that island in
WHO CAN KILL A CHILD?) inhabited only by a great bunch of weird women &
young boys but what goes around there was the main intriguing as well
as surprising aspect of this slow burn, mysterious French
sci-fi/body-horror. All those women who are acting like their mother
even at once do this very weird orgy sort of ritual in the beach at the
middle of the night and those boys gradually becomes subject to a
series of strange experiments or treatments where it seems they were
using them in a some sort of reproductive procedure for what knows what
the hell (!?!) ...(or what those creepy human baby like things were
doing with Nicholus in the tank?!...they were feeding by him?!?). And
like those, there were a good deal of interesting issues & questions
left unanswered. May be it is one of those kind of films that actually
demands to be interpreted in a metaphorical way with a more careful
viewing but despite it was beautifully shot & initially felt quite dark
& promising, eventually frustrated me at the end for being too
ambiguous & weird, without providing much hints to interpret it or made
some sense about the whole affair.
At one point I was thinking may be it would going to reveal that those women are actually mermaid or siren sort of creatures and they need or steals human baby and raise them to a certain age to sacrifice them in order to give birth of their own child that they become unable to do for some weird natural change or curse or whatever!
The film did have it's share of eerie moments and it does have a decent premise, but overall it was a disappointment. With the exception of the main character (a young boy), you do not feel much of an emotional connection with any of the other cast members. As other reviewers have mentioned, it has beautiful and artistic cinematography, but I usually chose to watch movies (especially if I am paying to rent them) for the plot and to be entertained. I am not opposed to directors and screenwriters using metaphors and having the audience use their own interpretations when it comes to the motives of the characters and outcomes of certain situations, but with this film it is just way too open-ended- at least for my taste. I felt it was slightly pretentious and tried so hard to be "deep" and artsy" that it kind of did itself (as well as its audience) a disservice. Maybe it would have worked better as a book?
It's tough to call this a horror movie, because some will expect
something completely different. It's more of a mystery thriller with
horror touches. If you though Under the Skin is horror, with Scarlett
Johansson and liked that movie too, you probably will like this one
also (because of a similar vibe, not because of themes that are
colliding, but it may touch the same nerve as well).
While it's slow burning and cooking, that fact may annoy and disappoint people. But if you stick with it, the movie will reward you. It's a strange story and movies that have the heart to go different directions should be rewarded. Or at least enjoyed for what they are. Hopefully something you can dig while watching
The first adjective which came to my mind after watching Évolution was "lovecraftian"... but not in the sense of cosmic monsters or creatures with tentacles (even though there's something of that, because the marine stars which show up at the beach create a hypnotic fascination in the main character), but in the atmosphere of isolation and misanthropy which insinuates grotesque secrets behind the placid tranquility of a coastal community. Why are there only women and children? Apparently, the kids are ill, and the women occupy a dual function as mothers and nurses. Where was the corpse taken? And what do women do at night, while the "patients" are sleeping? Some of those questions are answered during the film, while other ones are left up in the air in order to reinforce a frightening mystery which provokes a strong emotional answer due to its exotic origin. And when the main character insists on his "investigation" of the missing corpse, we realize that the natural cycles of the island (if it's really an island) obey to rules which are outside our comprehension. As I previously said: lovecraftian. Despite being quite a short film (barely 80 minutes, including credits), director Lucile Hadihalilović allows the story to breathe and find its own rhythm. The dialogues are sporadic and appropriately oblique; the camera rarely moves, and it frequently contemplates long scenes of natural beauty which invite us to reflect and digest the things we have seen. In other words, the narrative feels sure and efficient, lacking of any artificial conflict or forced drama; things are like they are, and co- screenwriters Hadihalilović and Alante Kavaite don't judge the events they portray or the characters' unusual practices. In the leading role, the kid Max Brebant stands out due to his naturalness and total lack of histrionic affectations, while Roxane Duran also makes a very good work as the mother/nurse with an uncertain motivation to get interested in the main character's case. It's difficult to establish a specific niche for a movie like Évolution. There are no shocks, or gore, or masked killers, while its connections to author H.P. Lovecraft's work are limited to its disturbing atmosphere, so don't expect colors from outer space or lost cities in the Pacific; just an island with many secrets, which might be better not to know about. If that's not horror, I don't know what it is.
This is not a movie for everyone - or at least - you should be aware
that it's not a Sci-fi nor a horror movie as we know them - before
selecting this movie.
The movie is beautiful - it is just like meditation at the sea. I guarantee lower blood pressure after watching this move. I loved it. (It almost reminds me to the universe of Myst - the old computer game from the 90s- where you are totally alone on a abandoned Island and you don't know how you got there.)
Furthermore - the move makes you think. It may be a far future situation or it may be a dream of a child. As children we can have fantasies or anxiety for loosing our parents - or we may misenterpret a situation as dangerous etc. this movie may be a dream or a post apocalyptic movie.
Either way - this movie works, but I understand that some people don't like it. This is like entering a gallery. Sometimes you are not in the mood. But, if you are - this movie is unique and genial.
A true artwork.
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