Raw is Julia Ducournau’s French language coming of age horror drama about a young vegetarian girl, Justine, who after a hazing ritual at Veterinary Collage involving her eating raw rabbit kidney finds herself drawn to the raw meat, eventually leading her to experiment with cannibalism. Raw is, as you would expect, an incredibly shocking and at often times extremely hard to watch films. Ducournau doesn’t hold back with a lot of the graphic imagery, although never gratuitous, that will put a lot of viewers off. But if it is something that you can stomach then Raw is an extremely innovative and daring take on the coming of age genre.
It is clear that the cannibalism that Justine begins to explore is meant to mirror her burgeoning sexuality. In fact many of her experiences with cannibalism come during sexually charged moments, including when she is kissing a boy, and her first time having sex. But, this isn’t a metaphor that is beaten over your head; indeed you could watch Raw as a simple cannibal story. However the symbolism is certainly there if you want to read into it.
Garance Marillier, who plays Justine, is outstanding in the role. Her journey from a meek and withdrawn girl to the girl who comes into her own right and discovers this raw part of her is brilliant to watch. And as much as Ducournau’s script and direction that is down to Marillier’s performance. She unravels that emotional journey wonderfully. Similarly Ella Rumpf as her sister Alexia and Rabah Naït Oufella as her roommate Adrien are fantastic in the film.
Raw is a wonderful, intense, brutal film that completely lives up to its title. Julia Ducournau really marked herself out as a brilliant directorial talent, and has created one of the most shocking films of the year.