#LFF Recommended: Evolution (Lucile Hadžihalilović)


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As the festival goes on, its official competition has delivered a another strong contender for this year’s prize with Lucile Hadžihalilović’s beautifully disturbing second feature, ‘Evolution’.

Those who never saw Hadžihalilović’s 2004 debut, ‘Innocence’, are likely to find in her second work a total revelation. It took the French director ten years to complete this enigmatic visual poem subverting notions of gender roles and mother-child bond that toys with fantastic genres to build up its ambiguous mystery.

Her romantic, seaside vision captures a child’s imaginative way to discover a world that’s not what it seems, triggered by his finding of another kid’s corpse while diving in a nearby reef. His mother doesn’t believe his claims and takes him back to the diving spot to prove him wrong. Soon we are in the middle of a strange world inhabited only by females and young boys, icily interacting with each other. The kids are being taken to the hospital afflicted with strange symptoms.

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‘Evolution’ combines the rich biological diversity of marine life; Lovecraft’s novels imagery and body horror around ideas of reproduction and breeding. Shot in the Canary Islands’, their beautiful volcanic landscapes add an alien quality to the film’s unique aesthetics.

Its troubled, long gestation was due to both financing problems, as its central idea wasn’t easy enough to categorise or sell, and a first screenplay that had to be rewritten from scratch with the help of fellow director Alanté Kavaïté (‘The Summer Of Sangaile’). The final result is well worth the wait. Audiences permitting, it could become next year’s ‘Under The Skin’. ★★★★½

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