All you can eat sushi has nothing on this
Raw was a one of the weirdest film experiences I’ve ever had. I don’t mean that in a negative way at all. It was unique and kind of fun. There wasn’t much fanfare for this movie that I’d heard of. The only way I found about it was that it was listed at the local art theater. The listing stated it had something to do with a vegetarian trying meat for the first time and that it was a horror. That does sound kind of scary in a curious way. I was thoroughly intrigued.
Raw is French movie that deals with life away at college. That’s nothing new in of itself but Raw throws a disturbing twist on that premise. Justine and her parents are vegetarian. She has never tasted meat in her entire life. It’s time for her to go off to veterinarian college for her freshman year. This is not an American college by any means. The hazing rituals here are so aggressive, they would easily offend a lot of SJW Americans. One of the rituals is forcing the freshmen to eat a rabbit’s kidney. Since Justine is a vegetarian, this poses a dilemma for her since it goes against her beliefs obviously. Forced to eat it anyway or risk being shunned for the rest of the year, Justine finds herself undergoing a very uncomfortable transformation. Strangely enough, she starts to crave more and more meat. That would be perfectly normal except that she is exceptionally drawn to raw meat. Pushing the limit with each meal, the tipping point comes when human meat begins to enter the picture. That’s right…Justine learns that she desires the flesh of her fellow students and not just sexually. How will she cope with this startling realization? Does Justine have a chance to live normally ever again?
The macabre story may be enough to keep a lot of people away from this movie due to not being able to stomach it. That’s a shame. It’s not as grotesque as you may think it is. There are some disturbing visuals in this movie sure, but nothing more than you might get in a typical horror movie. If you get past the surface of this movie, you’ll find that this is a deeply complex movie about a girl coming to terms with her desires. There are some haunting visuals in here that have a powerful impact. The entire film is spoken in French with English subtitles so that adds to the richness of the film. Everything does sound cooler in French I must say. The score of the movie also helps to increase the dark nature of the film. In terms of performances, the main headliner Garance Marrillier does an amazing job conveying the vulnerability and aloofness of Justine. Not only that but she is absolutely gorgeous as well. We also get solid supporting performances from Ella Rumpf, Laurent Lucas, and Rabah Nait Ofella.
As well done as this movie is, there are parts of the movie that feel rushed in my opinion. Justine makes a big deal out of being a vegetarian and then suddenly, she is eating meat without the people close to her questioning anything. There just didn’t seem to be that scene that showcased her dramatic turn to meat besides the rabbit kidney scene. It was all very abrupt. Pacing wise, the film kind of meanders around leaving you wondering when something big will happen. Raw also leaves the ending very open ended with no finality to anything.
It was amusing watching the different aspects of French culture. Characters seem to do things very nonchalantly which contrasts with the way most Americans tend to approach things. The hazing culture of the school alone was very bizarre but in a fun sort of way. There are some moments that play like a dark comedy, which I appreciated since it helped lighten the mood sometimes.
Everyone has a vice. That’s what the movie treats cannibalism as. It is a vice for Justine. She is for the most part an innocent girl who doesn’t want to harm anyone but must deal with this urge to eat flesh. Sexuality is also a big part of the picture here as there are some very erotic aspects intertwined amongst the viscera. The commentary on the addictive temptation of adulthood is metaphorically addressed in an interesting way. Intriguing questions are also brought up about whether we are dealing with some sort of vampirism aspect here. One more thing, is this vegan propaganda? I would say no. This movie won’t be for everyone. It probably sounds appealing only to the most open minded out of all of us. However, it is interesting tale that could be worth a watch if you’re feeling daring.