We open underwater, in the murky depths, floating with the algae as shafts of sunlight penetrate the surface. A boy swims into view: this is our protagonist Nicholas – played by Max Brebant. In a flash we see from his POV the body of another boy amongst the coral, a bright red starfish creeping over his belly.
It’s an opening that sets the tone for the remainder of the film – the stark contrast of the grotesque and the brutal beauty of nature. We follow the boy to a remote village of white block buildings, where his mother – an ethereal presence with bleached eyebrows, draped in a thin beige dress – stirs a disgusting looking pot of what looks like grey spaghetti on the hob.
The rest of the film unfolds at an insidious, dream-like pace, juxtaposing gruesome scenes of medical procedures with childbirth, reef dwelling creatures undulating in the current and the sonic crash of waves on the razor sharp black coastline.
The only other location in the film is a sinister hospital like building – instead of clean, bright, white spaces we get grim, dim, sparsely furnished rooms that have more in common with a torture chamber than a medical facility. Here the boys are ‘treated’ with clinical detachment by silent nurses who watch birthing videos in their spare time. It’s not for the squeamish: there are close up shots of scalpels slicing through flesh and needles puncturing the stomachs of the boys.
Every scene asks questions and very few answers are ever provided. If you demand a satisfying conclusion from your films then this is not for you. It certainly doesn’t pander to its audience, preferring to let them weave their own narrative from the disturbing tapestry of events and striking poetic imagery. Is it about the changes of adolescence and oncoming puberty? Is it set on another planet or in another dimension?
An experimental and deeply bewildering visual feast, this is really for fans of experimental French horror but is worth seeing if you want to venture out of your comfort zone. One thing’s for sure, it’ll creep under your skin and linger long after you’ve left the cinema.
|What||Evolution film review|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
06 May 16 – 08 Jul 16, Event times vary
|Website||Click here to visit the film's IMDB page|