Festival Review: Evolution (2015)


A stylish dystopia set in a world without men, Lucile Hadzihalilovic’s Evolution comes adrift in a sea of beautiful images.

The Theory Of Something

by Mark Wilshin


CAUTION: Here be spoilers

Opening underwater, the camera beautifully dazzled by a softly ebbing sun, Lucile Hadzihalilovic’s Evolution immediately casts us back to the beginnings of creation where life is formed in the primordial soup. It’s not long though before we’re cast ashore. And set on Lanzarote, the film’s location has a starring role in Hadzihalilovic’s film – with its rocky shore, abandoned pueblo and rotting hospital. What follows is an enigmatic dystopia, where men do not exist – only boys, who upon reaching puberty become – like seahorses- surrogate wombs for embryos, ex uterine in a tank of amniotic fluid. And where the fairer sex are divided into mothers and nurses, half woman and half fish. It’s a strange vision of a world without men, creating a vision of reproduction without sex, and in which boys are fragile and feminised, while women are hard and untrustworthy. (And yet still writhe on the beach in a kind of fertility ritual.) Like a The Handmaid’s Tale for the 21st century, Evolution is short on exposition, revealing neither the rules of the game nor the whys and the wherefores. At times frustratingly opaque, Evolution nevertheless washes the eyes in a sea of images, which almost seem to escape the brain’s shores – and on a purely visual basis the film kinda works. With dripping walls and gaping foetuses, it’s a sensory experience – at times horrific or uncanny. But in the end, the peculiar cosmos that Hadzihalilovic so evocatively creates doesn’t stand up, leaving too many questions unanswered. Frustrating and obscure, Lucile Hadzihalilovic’s Evolution ends up halfway between the shores of narrative and non-narrative filmmaking. Like a boat adrift between two worlds.

Evolution is now showing at the London Film Festival

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