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Monday, 17 October 2016


Imagine you're around nine years old and you live in a desolate coastal community surrounded by other young boys and a ton of women with the same disconcerting androgyny of Tilda Swinton. Congratulations: you're Nicholas, the protagonist of EVOLUTION, a super weird recent French film.

The film opens with young Nicholas swimming in the sea and discovering a drowned body. There's a vibrant red starfish on the corpse's stomach, which fascinates Nicholas, and is just one of many references to aquatic life scattered throughout the film. However, when he informs one of the community's many female(?) 'caretakers' of his discovery, all they bring back to the surface is the starfish - apparently, he imagined the body. 

And so we have the start of a possible conspiracy and Nicholas' slowly dawning realisation that something isn't right...

The first few minutes of EVOLUTION also brings in the overarching style of the piece: that is, long, static shots; underwater photography, the incessant rumble and whoosh of waves and wind; and a score reminiscent of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. There isn't anything to anchor the events/setting to any particular time or place, which is clearly done on purpose. Even the fact the characters speak French doesn't necessarily mean they're in France - we find out if this is an island, coastal community or somewhere else by the end of the film, but even then there's no clear sense of geography. EVOLUTION is removed from our time and place yet exists within it. 

In a previous post I mentioned Lovecraft in relation to this film, which feels both wrong and right. Apart from the sea motifs and setting, it's perhaps closer to the work of fellow French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (THE CITY OF LOST CHILDREN) with its surreal atmosphere and sickly green hue. Is it otherwordly? It feels more disconnected than that, as lengthy stretches of ambient sounds and forlorn stares serve to distance characters from each other as much as the audience. EVOLUTION's director Lucile Hadžihalilović wastes no time in presenting a very self-contained world, yet leaves an strong undercurrent of ambiguity that may put a lot of people off. 

All the children are sick (or are they?). All the 'women' are nurses and/or mothers (or are they?). Nicholas regularly sketches pictures of animals, vehicles, etc, so he clearly has an understanding of the outside world - did he come from there or has he seen/been shown these images some other way? Why aren't there any older men? Why do the nurses regularly watch the video of someone giving birth? This is a film less about typical plot and more about mood, about texture

Water pools in dank corridors. Green paint flakes from walls like old skin. The 'hospital' and homes are borderline derelict, yet the equipment used appears to be in good condition. This desolation, unfortunately, also causes the film to have an inherent coldness that, whilst not exactly bleak, adds a further emotional distance between the characters and ourselves. It is a film to admire rather than like; it's difficult to identify with anyone because it all so unsettling (there is a strong sexual aspect to a lot of the character interactions) and no one quite acts like a normal person. The women are aloof and stern, the children perplexed yet obedient - if EVOLUTION were a person itself, it'd be stoic. And possibly hide tentacles under his/her clothes.

I do, however, recommend it. What I don't recommend is that you watch the trailer. It effectively condenses an already sparse film down to something that betrays the fact it would have worked perfectly well as a short film. Allow yourself to experience this one in the dark, alone and possibly a little tired.

Here's some music from the film, which should give you a pretty good idea of the sort of atmosphere it revels in:

ps. I have a theory about what's going, which if you're interested is hidden below in tiny, tiny writing:
The women are the results of a previous experiment, and are themselves trying to replicate the results using the bodies of the young boys. With reference to certain sea creatures' sexual properties, it's possible the goal is to create a lifeform/version of a person capable of creating their own offspring. Except, they're still learning/experimenting, which is why we see them watching a birth video and collecting the 'failures' in jars. What do you think?

Wednesday, 12 October 2016


OI OI. Just a quickie (oo er!):

One reason I haven't been posting much in this last month is because I've been busy working on some remixes, yey for that! If you're interested, you can hear them here:


and here:

Another reason is because I've been finishing a Teaching English as Foreign Language course! I've now completed all the coursework for this, so fingers crossed I pass it all okay.

I've also watched an awful lot of films, and I'll be talking in more depth about these soon. In particular, a recent weird French film called EVOLUTION. It has genetic mutation and sea themes, so calling it 'Lovecraftian' is both not-entirely accurate and also not-entirely wrong. If you can, find it and watch it.

No end song this time since you've got some music just up there ^  - enjoy!