Raw is a beautiful, disgusting mess. And it’s fantastic.
In the prestigious veterinary school newly attended by Justine (Garance Marillier), hazing is tradition. Midnight dorm raids. Mandatory partying. Buckets of blood dumped Carrie-style. Eating raw rabbit kidneys.
For most, this would be frustrating but tolerable. But Justine is also a vegetarian. After she is forced to consume the animal remains, strange things start happening to Justine.
Raw has some intriguing, grotesque animal imagery, and the film centers itself around it. But at its core, this is not what the film is about. In the strangest, most tangential way, the film is a coming of age story. It is about a young woman moving into independence, taking control of the aggressive, hypersexual world around her.
I mean, it’s also about raw meat. Lots and lots of raw meat. But still.
The film exists in an icy, claustrophobic world. Sometimes, this limits the reality of the film. But mostly it creates an inhospitable environment in which it becomes the norm, as the viewer, to cringe at the sight of it.
Cringe. But not recoil. The film is composed with pure beauty. Each shot brings something to the table. Tearing your eyes away from this movie will be hard, even though you will want to.
Julia Ducournau creates in Raw a furious implosion of the oppressed identity. The virginal, vegetarian Justine, when exposed to the two things that upend those traits, experiences literal decay to accompany her mental anguish. But she also fights back, with a literal bloodlust. It is a metaphor made real through this disturbing, body horror genre piece.
Raw is Ducournau’s first foray into feature filmmaking, and it should not be her last. As titillating as it is to simply call Raw a gross out piece, there is so much more to explore here. If you can stomach it, that is.
As always, thanks for reading!
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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)