International Films to Watch During Isolation: Raw
Francesca Sylph recommends Raw’s disturbing ambition to keep us busy during lockdown.
Raw is a coming of age film like no other. Justine comes from a high-achieving family of entirely vets and vegetarians. At 16, she is bright and gifted, and ready to start her first year at vet school, where her older sister, Alexia, also studies. Free from the oppressive and stifling atmosphere of her home, Justine is anticipating a new life of freedom and independence, hoping her timid and self-effacing nature won’t hinder her university experience. During some time-honoured and intense hazing rituals, Justine is forced to eat raw meat for the first time. Unexpected consequences emerge as her true self begins to form, and she is overcome with an all-consuming craving for human flesh.
Uncontrollable desire triumphs over intellect. Immersive and provocative, Raw is an entirely bodily and carnal viewing experience. Julia Ducournau’s directorial debut is erotic and sensual. Alongside the deeply disturbing gore (definitely not one to watch while you’re eating), Raw is the profoundly personal story of a teenage girl discovering herself and her sexuality. Ducournau never judges her protagonist. Delicate and intimate moments are scattered amongst gruesome and monstrous scenes. Ducournau’s empathetic storytelling makes even the most nightmarish and grotesque moments disturbingly relatable. Audiences are challenged to approach Justine without simply judging or vilifying her, for even the antiheroine’s most monstrous moments are ultimately grounded in universal human emotion and desire. Wholly original, ambitious and individualistic, Raw is a viewing experience like no other. Julia Ducournau proves that women really are the future of horror, in front of and behind the camera.