Raw (2017) follows Justine, a quiet but incredibly smart young woman who is attending her first year at a veterinary university. When she arrives at the school, she is greeted with some disturbing hazing rituals that will test her limits to see how far she will go to fit in. After being forced by her older sister, who is an elder at the school, to eat raw meat, Justine, a vegetarian, quickly spirals into a dark and uncontrollable need to feed on meat.
When this film first premiered at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2016, the media reported that ambulances had to be called as some festival goers became physically ill and fainted while watching the film. Since this news broke, many have been turned off from the movie with fear that it might be too gross and gory. Well, I am happy to report that I neither became sick nor fainted while watching this film. "Raw" so so much more than just a gross-out cannibal movie. Don't be turned off by what the media has reported. Yes, there some very gross moments but they are intertwined with an incredibly beautiful and unique coming of age story.
"Raw" was written and directed by Julia Ducournau, a first-time filmmaker, which is very surprising to me. The originality and creativity that went into the film's script was very impressive and the fact that it came from a first time feature writer makes it all the more impressive. At its core, it is a coming of age story, but it has so many layers that build off of the core concept. The way Justine (played by Garance Marillier) struggles with a need to want to fit in and the complex relationships she has with her sister, Alexia (played by Ella Rumpf), and her roommate, Adrien (played by Rabah Nait Oufella) all provide for a deep and tense film.
Marillier's performance as Justine is one of the best I have seen in a long time. The vast array of emotions and physical challenges that she put herself through to make this film is extraordinary. She is an excellent example of someone who truly dedicates themselves to their performance. I hope to see more from Marillier very soon.
"Raw" is a very tense and disturbing film, but I loved it. I was incredibly impressed with the film's quality as it is coming from first-time feature filmmaker, Julia Ducournau. I was equally impressed with the film's star, Garance Marillier, and how much she dedicated herself to the role. I hope to see more from both Ducournau and Marillier soon. If you are worried about being grossed out by this film, I say, give it a try! You can close your eyes during the more disturbing moments and still enjoy this film as a beautifully dark coming of age story. I give Raw (2017) a 9 out of 10.