Bringing you honest reviews of recent releases
Garance Marillier – Justine
Ella Rumpf – Alexia
Rabah Naït Oufella – Adrien
Laurent Lucas – Father
Joana Preiss – Mother
Holy shit, what the hell was THAT?
That vile if somewhat meaty movie involving a vegetarian girl and her passion for human flesh?
I’ve not seen anything like Raw in years..
My first observation is how long it takes to get going. If you sit down intriguingly waiting for Justine to get her teeth into something meaty, you’ll have a long wait. The first forty-or-so minutes of Raw seem to drag by as the young woman is packed off to university, acclimatises to her new home, begins studying, makes friends.. total yawn-fest.
The odd scene arises where she comes into close contact with an animal which brings an air of intrigue; the way she reacts to the beast, etc. Especially as the girl has a taste for humans – will this heighten the anticipation?
The first hour of the movie is dull, but it does pick up pace when her story begins to develop. The whole human-animal-human relationship is certainly the backbone of Raw; it makes an interesting watch to know how caught between the two species Justine is and how her story will develop.
The first scene which sees the young woman devour her first bit of human is a bizarre sight. And it’s doubly revolting due to the scene kicking off with Justine laying on a bed – legs open – receiving a fanny wax (brazilian) from her sister. The cameraman clearly had a wail of a time as he shoved the lens right up into the poor woman’s crotch and laid her pubes bare (well, almost bare – her sister does a bloody awful job of it) for the world to see.
I’ve had a go at waxing my own pubes before now, but even this was a disgusting watch.
Then again, it’s a bit like farts. I lap up my own, other people’s make me feel physically sick. Farts aside, this scene is vile. Open legs, sticky pubic hair, and then.. cannibalism when Justine’s sister Alexia has a nasty accident with a pair of scissors which lacerates a part of her body.
If you’re like me and don’t necessarily agree with, but like a darkly sinister story, you’ll enjoy Raw for all its yucky gusto. Director Julia Ducournau does a great job in breaking the boundaries many others haven’t gone near, bringing together two effective female performers and having them play out the story in a way that reflects the progression of a young adult’s novel. In actual fact, Raw reminds me of a series of books I read as a teenager. Remember the Point Horror franchise? Like Goosebumps, a collection of twisted tales for young readers that put the shitters up even me as a 13-year-old. This movie carries the same type of structure; weaving a little bit of the unbelievable into an otherwise genuine story.
And it does this well, it’s a genuinely surprising story. Some French flicks I’ve seen across the years have been a bit cliché; most seem to involve a story focused on a loved-up couple and their delicate issues. Or they run at one steady level like some sort of documentary, never quite managing to make it to exciting – god forbid you’d see a car chase in one. And nearly all contain the classic way French people seem to eat food: all open-mouthed chewing and slurping. And showing aggression over the smallest of things. Boring.
Where Raw differs is its ability to incorporate an almost Hollywood-esque story which concludes with a shocking finale. And the ending truly is weird. I loved it, however brief it was. The movie’s dynamics were vamped up 100% and the revelation-confrontation between the two characters during this closing scene sum up what I’ve mentioned about the movie capturing the essence of an actual story. Not just the arty bullshit most French features give us. And like the final page of one of those scary books also mentioned, words of truth are spoken as the twist of this particular story is revealed.
You get the gory action, the consequences of Justine’s actions, and the big revelation. Great stuff.
So what went wrong?
My immediate reaction as I left the cinema was disappointment – at the sheer lack of horror. Yes this movie had an intriguing story, but it needed more gory action. This may sound slightly odd as though I condone cannibalism – I do not. But Raw was lacking massively in the gore department, replacing potentially fleshier moments with simple drama. So instead of seeing Justine feasting on other people, you only really get the sense it’s going on in the background as the movie shows more normal scenarios such as her studying in class, shagging, conversations with teachers, hanging out with her peers at various parties, etc. – bit of a flop in the flesh department.
Give Raw a go? Yes
Pay to see it? No.
Although darkly artistic and involving a hilarious fight scene between two siblings whereby they bite each other instead of actually fighting, this movie is no Oscar winner. I did enjoy how entertaining the twist in the story was, but otherwise this movie is bland and bizarre, and worth watching if you stumble across it on TV one night – but not worth adding it to your DVD collection.