Controlling desire and not letting it consume you. Raw is a film that strips away the layers, and explores the root of carnal desires.
A young girl from a family of veterinarians is about to start her first week of Vet school. ‘O-week’ or ‘rush week’ gets off to a bad start, and slowly becomes worse. A series of pranks and not so harmless bullying leaves the former vegetarian with an appetite for something else.
Raw is a 2016 French-Belgian debut from director Julia Ducournau who manages to weave a coming of age story with dark comedy and wrap it in a bright, red bow, of body horror. The story is told from overachieving yet naive and timid teenager Justine. Our protagonist living away from home for the first time is navigating a world without her parents, and having first time experiences: some quintessentially college like, others not so much. For a cannibal film, the blood and gore is not as over the top as one might expect it to be. Instead key scenes are utilised, and when combined with unpleasant occurrences of human life, creates a sense of uneasieness.
Themes of belonging, identity, and repression are beautifully highlighted, to the point where you find yourself siding with characters that you wouldn’t necessarily think to sympathise with.
Acting wise, the three young leads did a tremendous job, especially Garance Marillier (Justine). Marillier captured the awkward, introverted, goody-two-shoes side of her character as well showcasing the ravenous, possessed, and passionate aspects. As the titular character she had a lot to carry on her shoulders and did so convincingly. Ella Rumpf’s character as the button pushing, elder sister Alexia with secrets of her own to hide plays up the jealous sibling rivalry effectively, as well as showing her own insecurities behind a tough persona. Some comedy relief is supplied by Justine’s roommate, Adrien played by Rabah Nait Oufella who develops a bond with her, and tries to help his friend in her crisis.
Key scenes to look out for: Fresh entree with a drink of Carrie 2.0. Finger lickin’ good chicken minus the chicken. Roadside assistance. An itchy food allergy. Getting drunk, and going for a late night feed, eating anything and everything. “I’m so hungry I could chew off an arm!” Sisters fight it out, and there’s more than just hair pulling. Massive morning after regrets.
Can you really change what you were born as? Will repression lead to repercussions? Maybe, instead of suppressing desires completely it’s better to learn how to cope with them. Check out Raw if you want your gore served with a delicious side of social commentary.