The synopsis for Raw is tame enough: a young girl who has led a sheltered, vegetarian life is thrust into the cruel and seductive world of university hazing.
Justine (Garance Marillier) is off to veterinary college, like her sister before her and her parents before them. A family of devout vegetarians, Justine tries to stay true to her family’s morals but succumbs to a hazing ritual of eating a raw rabbit’s kidney. Disgusted with herself, and with her older sister Alexia for forcing her to partake, what follows is a twisted battle of the mind and body as Justine discovers her true carnivorous appetite.
This French-Belgian film premiered at the Cannes Critics’ Week and then went on to sicken hundreds of viewers across Europe. Director and screenwriter Julia Ducournau’s debut feature is well-paced and well-written, with a satisfying plot twist. Furthermore Marillier, at 19 years old, is surely a brave and ambitious young actress.
I know that I’m desensitised but Raw is really less about gore and more about making the viewer shocked and uncomfortable. Included for your viewing pleasure are autopsies on dead dogs, a make-out session that includes eyeball licking, a cross-your-legs cringe-worthy DIY Brazilian wax, the ubiquitous raw meat-eating scene, horrific car crashes, close ups of itchy rashes and flaky skin, awkward sex, and shocking finger-licking cannibalism.
But deep down, if you can get past all those uncomfortable scenes, this is a coming-of-age story about family. A secret that unites a family, and the bond of sisterhood.