When settling in to your seat to indulge in a French coming-of-age drama about cannibalism – which has even spurred certain cinemas around the world to provide audience members with sick bags, just in case – you kind of know what you’re getting yourself in for. And yet in spite of that initial understanding, it’s unlikely that you’ll have ever have seen anything quite like Julia Ducournau’s directorial debut Raw.
Garance Marillier plays Justine, a vegetarian (lol) who leaves her parents behind to begin life at veterinary school. Though her older sister Alexia (Ella Rumpf) is also a student here, that doesn’t let off the hook when it comes to the unique, strenuous initiations that the first years must encounter. One of which is eating raw meat, something Justine is stringently against, and yet forced to do. It’s this brief, seemingly innocuous moment which, quite literally, gives her a taste of flesh, and while vying to maintain a sense of normality about herself and uphold her reputation amongst her peers, including flatmate Adrien (Rabat Nait Oufella), as her impulsions to dine on flesh grow stronger, so does her will to act upon them.
Though a candid character study of this one young girl, the viewer never quite understands Justine. There’s a disconnect formed, as while we embody her, and vie to get into her head, we’re never actually able to comprehend her actions and desires, which makes for an intriguing entry point into this surrealistic world. If the above is not applicable for you – it might be wise http://onhealthy.net/product-category/pain-relief/
Though ineffably twisted and dark, the film is peppered with comedic moments, with brief appearances by quirky characters, which help to enforce the heightened take on reality that Ducournau is vying to accomplish. It’s why this picture triumphs, for it feels otherworldly, which just takes the sting out of some of the more uncomfortable moments. That said, there is a commitment to naturalism in parts, particularly in the early stages – which is imperative also, for it means that when the films gets unspeakably absurd towards the latter stages, we’re already on board, and invested in this narrative and universe.
The indelible aesthetic further enhances this sentiment, managing to be stylish without contrivance, as the parties the students have, s the use of paint and luminous materials allows for a unique visual experience that feels as though it’s served by the narrative, rather than implemented purely for a stylistic purpose. But the one paramount colour is red, and in particularly, the shade of which we associate with blood. This is a mesmerising, horrendously uncomfortable film that lingers on every single little moment. The cutting, the bitting, the scratching or the waxing – it’s a visceral piece that you won’t forget in a hurry, which, in this case, is not necessarily a positive.
Raw is released on April 7th