EVOLUTION (2016) is a French film about Nicholas, a boy growing up in a seaside community consisting solely of boys his age and their mothers. Immediately, we know something is off about this place. The rundown, bare appearance of everything. The strange food the mothers make entirely from what they find in the sea. The medicine his mother gives him each night.
Slowly, we learn more about Nicholas’s world as he does. That nothing is as it seems. That he remembers living in another place. Then his mother puts him in the hospital with the other boys, where the nurses claim they’re treating them for an illness.
This is a tough film to write a review about without spoilers. It’s a highly intriguing film. The beautiful cinematography, the strange women, the sense of isolation the boys feel even from each other. There is little dialogue, with the plot moving forward in some places largely by implication and viewer inference than by anything being spelled out. The viewer pieces it together with something like triumph as the mystery becomes revealed.
But not the entire story, and that’s where things felt a little hollow for me. The story of the women and the boys is revealed in glimpses until largely bared, but much is left unexplained. And Nicholas’s taciturn view of everything, and unwillingness to ask even simple questions about what’s going on, is occasionally frustrating.
Overall, EVOLUTION is an interesting and intriguing film that I enjoyed, but for me it could have been a little more rounded out, and the protagonist could have engaged his environment in a much less stoic way.