Directed by: Julia Ducournau
Starring: Garance Marillier, Ella Rumpf and Rabah Nait Oufella
Run Time: 1h 39min
Genre: Drama, Horror
4 Frames out of 5
By: Shari K. Green
In a word, Raw is… raw. A movie about cannibalism might frighten you away but keep reading before you make your final decision. It’s an unquestionably unique film, from the opening shot to the final moment. Cinematographer, Ruben Impens (The Sky Above Us), approaches the film by seeing it as a blank canvas in which to paint a bold piece of art; one that so intrigues you that you’re unable to look away. He’s able to extract elegance from a world of complete ugliness and if your first instinct is to not go and see it due to the content; I hope to change your mind. Raw will be an uncommon guilty pleasure but you’ll have to experience it to know what I mean and watching with others is the best way to go for this particular trip. There will be moments where trying not to think about the cannibalism will be futile but just sit back and watch the story unfold. Masterfully, director Julia Ducournau, keeps your interest in the character development and you don’t focus so much on the disgusting thought of a human wanting to eat another human… cooked, let alone raw! But I assure you, if you like the abnormal and unconventional, Raw is the film for you.
Justine (Marillier), a young student new to veterinarian school, who is also a vegetarian, ends up devouring plenty of meat throughout the film once she gets a taste for it. This happens after she goes through a hazing ritual where she’s commanded to eat raw rabbit kidneys. Wanting to fit in like her big sister, Alexia (Rumpf) who’s very popular at the school, she does as ordered. After that and a Carrie-style blood soaking, something inside her awakens; a thirst and hunger for more. You’d think behavior such as this wouldn’t take part in a vet school but alas, that’s where we find ourselves, however, it isn’t animal flesh she now craves. A situation arises where she can consume human flesh and as much as she tries to fight against the urge, her animalistic lust kicks in and she gives in to it.
If you get sick at the idea of this happening, the film might not be for you. If you’re worried the film is going to be too graphic and that’s your only concern, don’t be. It may be hard to believe but Raw is a magnificent piece of cinema. Ducournau uses makeup, paint, effects, animals and fantastic music to force us to peek into the macrocosm that is Justine’s life. Alexia loves to watch as her innocent baby sister gets her personal boundaries pushed to the breaking point but she goes beyond the point of breaking and snaps completely in two. Once she does, she’s much stronger than she thought she’d ever be and Alexia and the audience catch a glimpse of a devil once believed to be an angel. However, when you think the story is all Justine, give Alexia another look. What once might be thought of as a sibling rivalry might just be one sister following in the others footsteps… and perhaps just a little too closely. The scenes Garance Marillier and Ella Rumpf are in together are outstanding, believable and realistic even though the situation they’re in isn’t quite so much. Their performances alone are worth the ticket price.
Getting you to see his on the big screen is my goal because I think the artistic nature for which the film was made will be appreciated fully at the theatre but I can’t say much more without giving too much away. Yes, this is ultimately a gory movie but at its core, it’s the story of a girl becoming a woman and this is one way I can guarantee you’ve not seen the subject tackled before. So, for an unimaginable look at a story told a million times before, see Raw this weekend at Harkins Valley Art in Tempe or wherever you can near you. I can assure you of one thing… you’ll never look at your sister the same way again, especially if she eats Steak Tartare.