Evolution (2015 film)

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Évolution 2015.jpg
Film poster
Directed byLucile Hadžihalilović
Produced byJulien Naveau
Sylvie Pialat
Sebastián Álvarez
Written byLucile Hadžihalilović
Alante Kavaite
StarringMax Brebant
Roxane Duran
Julie-Marie Parmentier
Music byZacarías M. de la Riva
CinematographyManuel Dacosse
Edited byNassim Gordji-Tehrani
Distributed byPotemkine Films (France)
Release date
  • 14 September 2015 (2015-09-14) (TIFF)
  • 16 March 2016 (2016-03-16) (France)
Running time
81 minutes

Evolution (French: Évolution) is a 2015 French horror-thriller film directed by Lucile Hadžihalilović. It was shown in the Vanguard section of the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival.[1]


Nicolas is a sickly young boy living by the sea with his mother. One day while swimming in the sea he thinks he sees the body of a dead boy with a red starfish at his waist. He tells his mother, who goes diving and brings him back the starfish telling him there is no body there.

Later, at night, his mother brings back the body and the other mothers gather around it.

The following day Nicolas plays with his starfish. After another boy mocks him for being afraid of it, he grows angry and attacks the boy, and later hacks off one of the arms of the starfish. After his outburst his mother takes him to a hospital for observation. At the hospital Nicolas has an incision just above his stomach and finds himself in a ward with other boys who have been similarly operated on.

Once he has been released Nicolas begins to suspect his mother and the nurses of having lied to him. He and his friend, Victor, sneak out in the middle of the night to observe what the mothers are doing, Victor runs back home, but Nicolas sees the women lying together completely nude and writhing around in the mud passing an object from one to another. At home, he sneaks a peek at his mother as she is showering off the mud, and observes that she has what appears to be suckers on her back.

Back at the hospital Nicolas is given an ultrasound. To his mother's apparent joy, they hear the heart beat of a fetus.

Victor is operated on and a creature is taken out of his stomach and put in a jar. Victor has died during the operation but the nurses tell Nicolas and the other boys that he has recovered and a nurse brings a conch shell into the ward, saying that Victor has sent it to them. Nicolas's mother visits him and he accuses her of not being his mother. One of the other boys observes that his mother is not really his mother either.

At night the nurses watch videos of caesarean sections being performed.

Nicolas develops a friendship with one of the nurses, Stella. Stella sneaks Nicolas crayons and draws with him. We are shown Nicolas' drawings - a dead boy, starfishes, a bicycle, a car, a building, and a giraffe. Nicolas is drawing these from his memories which suggests that he was kidnapped and brought to this place (he is drawing things that are not in the sea side place). The other boys in the island, too, are possibly kidnapped as some of them observe that their mothers are not really their mothers.[2]

One night she takes him down to the sea and shows him the suckers on her back, allowing him to touch them before taking him into the water. Once underwater she holds him down until he drowns, then revives him using CPR. Nicholas awakens once more and goes back to the hospital where he sees one of the boys floating in a tank.

After a final surgery Nicolas awakens in the tank himself. He is in restraints and sees what appears to be a baby inside the tank with him.

Nicolas again finds himself by the sea with Stella. They again enter the water only this time she presses her mouth to his as she swims with him, giving him air to breathe underwater. She pushes him to the surface and the two end up in a small rowboat floating away from the island. After making sure Nicolas has a drink of fresh water Stella slips back into the sea, presumably to go back to the island. Nicolas stays on the boat and by nightfall he finds himself approaching the harbour of a major city.


Critical response[edit]

Evolution received generally positive reviews from critics. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes reported an approval rating of 80%, based on thirty reviews, with an average rating of 7.3/10.[3] At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film received an average score of 77, based on nineteen reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[4]


Award / Film Festival Category Recipients and nominees Result
Magritte Awards[5] Best Cinematography Manuel Dacosse Nominated
San Sebastián International Film Festival[6] Special Jury Prize Won
Best Cinematography Manuel Dacosse Won
Stockholm International Film Festival[7] Best Cinematography Manuel Dacosse Won
Utopiales[8] Grand Jury Prize Won


  1. ^ "Toronto Film Festival Adds 60+ Titles". IndieWire. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
  2. ^ "Evolution Plot". Evolution Plot.
  3. ^ "Evolution (2015)". Rotten Tomatoes.
  4. ^ "Evolution". Metacritic.
  5. ^ "Magritte du Cinéma: "Les premiers les derniers" et "Keeper" sont favoris". La Libre Belgique (in French). 10 January 2017. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
  6. ^ "Runar Runarsson's 'Sparrows' Tops San Sebastian". Variety.
  7. ^ "Joachim Trier's 'Louder Than Bombs' Wins Stockholm Film Festival's Bronze Horse". Variety.
  8. ^ "Palmarès 2015". Les Utopiales.

External links[edit]