“Raw” Is A Beautifully Crafted, Violent Debut From Julia Ducournau

 

 
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Title: Raw
 
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Direction
8.0


 
Acting
8.0


 
Plot
8.0


 
Execution
8.0


 
Total Score
8.0


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Posted August 25, 2017 by

 
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Justine and Alexia (Garance Marillier and Ella Rumpf) are sisters that come from a strictly vegetarian family; in the first scene of the film we see Justine getting food in a cafeteria with her parents and a piece of meat gets mixed in with her mashed potatoes and it’s enough to ruin their family dinner. When Justine is dropped off at Saint-Exupéry Veterinary school, the same school her sister is attending, it doesn’t take long for her to get hazed during rush week by being forced to eat raw rabbit liver. What seemed like something to do just to be accepted, quickly turns into a realization that she has a thirst for raw meat that is never fully satisfied and now the awkwardness of being the new girl at school is met with the unbelievable truth that she is a cannibal. As quickly as Justine realizes this fact about herself, her classmates find out as well in a series of violent outbursts that she can’t keep quiet. The only friends she has is her sister, who suffers from the same affliction, and a boy named Adrien (Rabah Nait Oufella) who is openly gay yet has an attraction, if not just a fascination, with Justine and what she’s going through. 

This is the debut feature-length film from writer/director Julia Ducournau and she does a fantastic job at blending horror with the every day drama that surrounds a group of young people trying to come to terms with who they really are. Despite the truth about the girls being out in the open, Ducournau buries another hidden part of their history just under the surface that plays out in the film’s final scene in a quiet yet tense moment that brings everything full circle. It left me feeling quite uneasy yet completely mesmerized at what I had just watched: an unflinchingly brutal film that drove its point home effectively without beating the viewer over the head with it. 

While there are body parts consumed, the most uncomfortable I felt was watching Justine scratching the rash that encompasses almost her entire body. There’s no soundtrack during this moment as the camera focuses in on her fingernails scraping against inflamed skin and I was forced to just watch; at one point I caught myself audibly saying the words, “Just stop”. While it was a hard moment to sit through, it was also a confirmation that Ducournau wasn’t going to hold back at all in the telling of her story. Something I deeply respect when delivered as brilliantly as this film is.

Marillier and Rumpf deliver strong performances and are completely convincing as sisters who have a lot in common but have many differences as well. Even watching the two argue over Adrien’s attention is thrilling and tension-filled and then brushed aside as they talk about the video game they’re playing together. It’s this moment when you realize they can’t shut off their urges, but the effects they have on those around them don’t concern them much. It’s just the way it is. 

Mouths being bitten in half, severed fingers being sucked down to the bone, and car crash survivors reduced to nothing more than a cheap roadside meal. “Raw” is brutal to its core, but its core is also something beautiful and relatable. This is a must-watch film. One I highly recommend.


DavidRyanM

 


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