Raw, by French director Julia Ducourau, is about a young woman named Justine (played by Garance Marillier) who has recently been accepted to veterinarian school. She is following in the footsteps of both her parents and her older sister Alexia (Ella Rumpf) who is an upper classmen at the same school. In addition to the whole family sharing a profession, they also have another trait in common: they are all vegans. But during the school’s rush week, Justine very reluctantly eats a raw rabbit liver as part of an initiation ritual. Although Alexia assures her it is a harmless gesture, it soon becomes apparent that the consequences of this decision will be dire.
Alright, I do know how else to say it, so I’m just going to be blunt: this is a movie about cannibalism. Okay, I suppose it’s not really a movie about cannibalism- the cannibalism is actually a metaphor for sexual desire and a myriad of other topics. But it is a movie that has a lot of cannibalism in it, and it is really, really… detailed. It is exceptionally graphic and quite disturbing, even to someone who regularly watches highly graphic films- I thought the ultraviolence in Logan was one of the things that made it so great, but this movie is in a whole different ballpark.
Raw is one of a fairly small category of films which are exceptionally well-made films, but are also intentionally unenjoyable, whether to make an artistic statement or a political point point. It reminds me a lot of the 2014 film Nightcrawler, in which Jake Gyllenhaal plays a horrifying sociopath; Raw is the same sort of thing but replacing the sociopathy with cannibalism. And that’s why I find it hard to recommend the film; it very well-made, with excellent acting, writing, cinematography, and some really interesting commentary about female sexuality. But at the same time it is profoundly unpleasant to watch.
So, the grade below is purely based on technical aspects, because I really don’t know how else to rate it. If you don’t mind seeing such a disturbing movie, than you’ll certainly appreciate the quality. But really do be careful about it- I thought I was ready for this movie and I really, really wasn’t.
Grade: A- (technical aspects only)