Directed by: Julia Ducournau
Starring: Garance Marillier, Ella Rumpf, Rabah Nait Oufella
It’s not often that a film lives up to the level of the hype surrounding Raw. I’m not talking about hype regarding the quality of the film, I’m referring to it’ supposedly vomit inducing nihilism. Apparently, viewers were literally throwing up at screenings at film festivals. In nearly every case this is simply a mix of marketing shenanigans and hyperbole. Not this time friends. I can absolutely see how this film had certain viewers relieving themselves of their proverbial cookies.
The film follows a young girl as she joins her older sister at an elite veterinarian school. Yes, you heard that right. This setup perfectly defines the parameters of the film, which sets one foot in realistic relationships and the other just inside the surreal. That foot in the surreal allows us settle uncomfortably into a world where new members to the school are hazed in truly offensive and gross ways, that after the first act of the film, seem right in this world. Our view into this world’s is filtered through the eyes of Justine, an awkward young girl who is also a world of meat eaters that are also incredibly disconnected from the animals they are training to heal, so much so that blood and guts from said cadavers becomes a common part of the hazing rituals.
The extreme blood, guts, and gore ritual seems to at first cause a psychotic break in her, and she becomes obsessed with eating meat. Her introduction to eating meat sends her down a cannibalistic road that is truly disturbing, definitely surreal, and occasionally humorous. The ensemble all do a great job of creating characters that we can relate to on some level which goes a long way to making the more disturbing sequences of the film all the more effective.
The film carries a lot of symbolism with it including familial relationships, and the weight of being different in a world where you are outnumbered on so many levels. Most importantly, this is a clean and basic approach to a unique character study that is as disturbing, weird, and humorous as you have heard. The film is very reminiscent of another French film, also directed by a woman, made back in 2002 called In My Skin. What a double feature this would be! It’s hard to get too deep into meanings and what is so effective about the film without getting spoilery and I’m just not willing to do that to you. Just go see the movie.