This new well-written low-budgeter from Robbie Pickering combines narrative and visual elements of memorable pictures like Higher Ground and Transamerica with a strong handle on its shifting storyline, characters (one an escaped convict), and their milieus. Even if some brief murky interludes belie slick editing to go along with rather vivid lensing.
His Natural Selection may bear enough visibility from a little Christian-based grass-roots marketing, finding thematic resonance from deepening relations relative to devotion around ungrounded spiritual tenets.
Rachael Harris (The Hangover, Diary of a Wimpy Kid) proves to be a highly involving portal for the viewer as steadfast, God-fearing infertile wife Linda who finds her estranged biological on-the-lam son Raymond (Matt O'Leary of Live Free or Die Hard and In Time) after sperm donor husband Abe (John Diehl) has a stroke while making another bank deposit.
The connection between Linda and Raymond becomes oddly endearing during what unfolds as a geographical journey (to Houston), as well as an internal one. A fairly deft dramedy with unanticipated turns and dry wit.
Linda is going through quite a crucible in her life at a veritable crossroads as Harris cuts a pretty unique off-center, amusing, yet assuring figure, very appealing opposite O'Leary's drug-addled, hangdog portrait. Each actor enriches the other amid some serious, tense situations as both begin to see the world and themselves differently.
It's hard not to empathize with Linda in the challenging course of action she takes; the quixotic route easily positions one in Linda's mindset and as a personal viewfinder. Able backup is offered by a solid Diehl as well as Jon Gries (Taken) as Peter, Linda's brother-in-law and pastor very sympathetic to her cause. Though Natural Selection may be too annoyingly off-kilter for some, it's hard not to be entertained by Harris's layered translucence and Pickering's stimulating pattern of uncertainty that puts its title in a more genuine, compassionate light.