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Review: ‘Raw’ Turns Cannibalism into a Coming of Age Story



Review: 'Raw' Turns Cannibalism into a Coming of Age Story

Let’s take a look at a tale of two cannibalistic sisters. Raw is a 2016 french film directed by Julia Ducournau. Sometimes called a “masterpiece” in the film community, this movie created a lot of attention with its screening at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival. Multiple guests required medical assistance. Two guests fainted and at least 30 became physically ill. The film was so disruptive during the screening that they had to pause it and take a break.

Raw is about a young lady named Justine who is going off to college. Justine has been raised as a strict vegetarian. She is attending veterinary school where her parents also attended and her sister is currently located. She gets a rude awakening while she is being hazed. The upperclassmen are sparing no mercy to the “fresh meat”. During one of the hazing rituals, she is forced to eat a raw rabbit kidney. This causes Justine to have a nasty rash outbreak that she is told is a sign of food poisoning. However, as we watch Justine go through her daily life, we find out this is much bigger than that. In a terrible bikini waxing incident, Justine accidentally causes her sister Alexia to cut her finger off. While her sister faints, Justine finds her sisters finger and consumes it. Instead of being upset, her sister is more than understanding because she also has a craving for human flesh. We watch Justine try to take control of herself and cope with these new changes and her new life.

Raw turns cannibalism into a coming of age story. The underlying themes are extremely obvious. Justine is a meek, shy, and strange girl. She does not seem to be cut out for the college life as much as her black sheep sister. Alexia is the wild child. Although they are very different individuals, they both struggle with identity. Justine emulates many different struggles. We see her struggle with her love life, addiction, fitting in, balancing school and social life, and living up to the expectations set for her.

Raw 2016 Still

This is often mistaken for one of the French extreme horror films. While it does have some body horror and disturbing themes, it isn’t close to the other films in the French extreme horror genre. I think the hype is very played up. Cannibalism is a very taboo theme and maybe even some people’s worst nightmare. However, it’s tame compared to other French familiars like Martyrs and High Tension.

This movie will not be for everyone. While the cinematography is great and the soundtrack in on par with the tone, this is still an indie film. A very good one, though. I really enjoy this movie. It’s a fresh take on the cannibal film. The theme of the movie is so ambiguous and that was entirely on purpose, Ducournau is not afraid to pick apart her own movie and other fans theories on what they take away from it. However, she has said that the movie is about whatever you take away from it. However, the center point is about learning to face your problems head on as opposed to walking away. It’s about gaining personal growth from such extreme monstrosities.

The big takeaway here is to not force your vegetarian friends to eat meat, lest you want to deal with the consequences.