Tuesday, 13 October 2015

LFF REVIEW - EVOLUTION (LUCILE HADZIHALILOVIC)


A discomforting dip into a filmmaker's fantasy that's more complete and creatively successful than it initially appears to be. Natural, unnatural and one masquerading as the other concentrated within an environment that's as worldly as it is otherworldly, as rooted in reality as it is in dream. Evolution is a startling film, perhaps needlessly so, not least since Lucile Hadzihalilovic's stylistic rigour often feels like either an attempt to subdue the thematic concerns of her fairly simple concept or a misguided compliment to those concerns. It's not a horror film in its heart, though it seems to be in Hadzihalilovic's head, and the strangeness that is central to Evolution descends into soulless sensationalism in the process of mangling it into one. Even as it lacks clarity as an endeavour, it doesn't lack artistry, and is thus a consistently compelling sit (even if that's sometimes more due to the promise of quality rather than the application of it). The arresting aesthetic design includes digital cinematography by Manuel Dacosse, itself masquerading, as Hadzihalilovic's desire to express a perceptibly physical atmosphere provokes an analogue grittiness to the images, capturing the befuddled imprecision of dream and the tactility of real life. Jesus Diaz and Zacarias de la Riva's score is pleasingly suggestive, at first beguiling and then insidiously so. More often than not, Evolution's stylistic success is in service more of thematic significance than narrative, though Hadzihalilovic stretches that thinly-drawn narrative to surprising lengths, particularly surprising in how they overcome and overwhelm the film's horror aspirations and redirect its purpose back to reality. In that sense, it's actually really good.