Julia Ducournau’s debut feature film Raw has been garnering quite a lot of attention since its release. At the centre of the story is Justine who is 16 years old and starts pursuing veterinary just like everyone in the family including her older sister at the same university. Coming from a vegetarian background Justine finds it very uncomfortable when she is forced to eat a rabbit kidney by a senior at the college. She then develops an uncontrollable appetite for raw flesh.
Justine’s parents seem a little conservative and it could be assumed that she is a little repressed. Her appetite for flesh can perfectly work as a metaphor of her experiencing freedom and a wilder side within. The psychological barriers that break when she is on her own result in animalistic desires. These desires are perceived as abnormal and inhuman by others but Ducournau suggests they are indeed human. The viscera here is not filmed akin to a horror film but psychologically terrifying nevertheless at multiple times. Even her elder sister seems to be totally fine with helping her embrace that side which leads to some intimate familial moments. Ducournau’s script and direction clearly does well to not portray human urges that are animalistic as completely destructive tendencies. Nevertheless, also implied is the destruction that might come out of these urges. It treads such a carefully crafted line as to what she implies and suggests with such subject matter. Raw is an extremely unique take on the particular subject matter it deals with and it never boxes itself with genre cliches. The psychological trauma that comes along could have been better explored at points but Ducournau simply is interested in idea of an animalistic coming-of-age tale than the character-in-place itself.
The central character seems to be looking for Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité while trying to be “human”. Ducournau presents that conflict and subtly asks “could you ever completely be?”.
Disclaimer: The above review solely illustrates the views of the writer.