Tuesday, 15 November 2016

I'm a sucker for a French movie [Review: Evolution]

Nicholas is a young boy, probably eight or nine. He lives with his mother, and other young boys and their curiously pale-skinned mothers, in a town of concrete cube houses on an isolated island. Nicholas' very presence is an enigma - like the other boys, he bears no physical similarity to his mother, and also he likes to draw places and people that he cannot have experienced on the island. He starts to look for answers, but is whisked away to a sinister hospital where he makes an unlikely friend and discovers something truly horrific about the island.

This film has restored my faith in French horror cinema, and I can finally forgive our international neighbours for Eden Log. It's short, at about une heure et quart, and it's beautifully shot in stark colours, interspersed with awesome nature photography. The motif of the starfish recurs throughout the film and adds mystery and menace to the atmosphere - in one scene where the symbol appears in the operating theatre lights, I was dumbstruck.

Evolution is nightmare fuel of a subtle, quiet type. It's not a gore-fest, although some of the scenes in the hospital are bloody enough. It's more of an atmospheric chiller, with a surprisingly tender story at its heart about the unexpected friendship Nicholas finds at the hospital. Meanwhile the precision with which the plot unwinds, and the equally precise cinematography, gives the impression that everything in this enigmatic film is there for a reason, and I suspect I will be returning to it over and again trying to solve the puzzles.

I should point out as a public service that this is a French movie, directed in 2015 by Lucile Hadžihalilović. If at any point a youthful David Duchovny appears on your screen, you are watching the wrong film.

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