“There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way to death”
Unnerving and insomnia inducing, Raw delivers a performance of rare quality that speaks volumes about the power of addiction in a state of gestation. This debut film from Julia Ducournau speaks about the all too human developmental stages of genetic fatalism and the lesson of rampant indulgence from sex and alcohol that serve as fuel for the fire of uncontrollable urges.
Wrapped in a masterful use of color, Ducournau wastes little time in the escalation of events that culminate in the final understanding of the tapestry of DNA. Lead actress Garance Marillier was haunting: finding herself in a school for veterinarians seemingly obsessed (or bored) with hazing, she becomes entangled with a darker family tradition hidden behind the weak walls of dietary restrictions. Marillier quickly, although unwittingly, begins to un-peel herself of the vestiges of restrain-ment unto the indulgence of the flesh. A truly horrific movement from a performance undervalued for its effectiveness.
The reaction to the film is characteristic. Josephine Livingstone (New Republic) writes:
Several viewers fainted and others vomited during a Toronto screening of Raw. I feel for them: Not long after the itching begins, an amateur bikini wax close-up leads to the severing of some flesh. That’s when Justine’s hunger for human flesh really kicks in, and the desire to throw up seizes the viewer.
Certainly there are drawbacks: the writing largely misses an opportunity to build a richer plot through readily available scenes of classroom lecturing and the gratuitous scenes of sexuality is seemingly on purpose to indoctrinate on the normative expression that Ducournau values, although it makes sense to a degree that the atmosphere for the ultimate unveiling would be impossible to believe if the setting was held at some school of theology.
Winning a prize at Cannes, Raw is a gateway opportunity for Ducournau to continue pushing the envelop in depictions only rarely seen from American filmmakers. Yes, the film is self-indulgent and embraces the sordid customary emotivism of a secular society like France without regard to ethics or propriety. But, its glimpse into the underbelly of the culture is an invaluable lesson for prude viewers. David Fear (Rolling Stones) said it best: “[i]n terms of the female-body politic, it’s an art-horror dirty bomb.”
To give a glimpse of the relevance of this breakout addition, here are some of the places where Raw fell for “Best Horror Films in 2017:”
#1 via Rolling Stones
#2 via Vulture
#3 via Paste Magazine
#5 via Thrillist
#6 via CinemaBlend
#7 via Esquire
#13 via BuzzFeed
#17 via Harper’s Bazaar