raw | julia ducournau | garance marillier | ella rumpf | rabah nait oufella | laurent lucas | joana preiss | cannibal | drama | france | belgium | united states | bouli lanners | marion vernoux | thomas mustin | marouan iddoub | jean-louis-sbille | college | sophie breyer
Director: Julia Ducournau
Writer: Julia Ducournau
Starring: Garance Marillier, Ella Rumpf and Rabah Nait Oufella
This film is one that I watched originally when I first started to do year end lists. It was something that I jumped on late, but this movie blew me away and was my favorite of that year. I had only given it that one viewing and now doing a second one as part of the Podcast Under the Stairs’ Summer Series. The synopsis here is a young woman, studying to be a vet, develops a craving for human flesh.
We begin by seeing a stretch of road that is quiet. We see someone walking along it. It shifts to the other direction where a car is coming. The focus shifts back and we someone run into the road and falls, causing the car to crash into a tree. The person then gets up and walks around to the driver’s side.
It then shift to a woman going through a line in cafeteria. Her name is Justine (Garance Marillier). She states she is a vegetarian to the worker and only wants mashed potatoes. She sits down with her mother, Joana Preiss, and father, Laurent Lucas, to eat. Justine spits out a bunch of her food, because there is a meatball in it. Her mother asks if she bit into it and goes to complain. We see that her father is more laid back in comparison to the mother.
Justine is taken to school. She is attending a popular veterinary school, like her parents. Her older sister is also attending, but she doesn’t show up help her sister move in. That night we see Justine in her room and something loud in the hallway wakes her up. She leaves her bedroom to find her new roommate Adrien (Rabah Nait Oufella). She requested for a girl, but instead was paired with gay gu. He has a ski pole and ready to defend them if he has to. It turns out to be upperclassman and this is a hazing ritual. They are taken from their room, their mattresses thrown out the window and they’re herded away.
They are taken to a rave. This is a hive of drinking, drugs and debauchery. Justine tries to find her place in everything. She seeks out Adrien who starts to make out with another guy. She then finds her sister, Alexia (Ella Rumpf). She is dancing on an elevated platform. Justine is happy to see her and they go off together. When Justine attempts to go home, Alexia tells her she can’t. The rookies can only go when the upperclassman call it a night. Justine comes home at dawn, exhausted.
The next hazing ritual is blood being poured on them, followed by being forced to eat a raw rabbit kidney. Justine tries to get out this by stating she is a vegetarian. Alexia is called over and defies what her sister says by eating a piece. She tells Jutine to do it and to not wimp out, forcing her to do so.
We then see that Justine is a prodigy student. Everything comes easy to her, but this angers a professor, Jean-Louis Sbille. Adrien is struggling with a test and tries to copy off of her and she doesn’t allow it. The professor knows it is happening and wants Justine to admit she is one doing so, or to rat on him. He says the other students hate her due to genius.
She has other things to worry about though. A horrible rash has broken out on her body and it itches. She also has grown a craving for meat, especially raw. Inner desires are also growing inside of her as well. She is gaining confidence, but is also losing herself in this process. Some wild things happen that make Justine question things she knew about her and her family.
I have to lead off that coming into this, I had heard a lot about this film via podcasts I listen to. My father even tried to watch it first and couldn’t get through it. This sparked my interest. With that said, I was blown away after that first viewing. What struck me this time around is that we have a coming of age story for Justine, which I can relate to. She has been sheltered with her parents her whole life and now that she is away at college, she is letting loose. She is trying to find her place and where she fits in. I got in quite a bit of trouble my freshman year, even though I didn’t grow up sheltered. There is also the idea of hazing here, as I was also in a fraternity so there is another aspect that is relatable for me.
Going from this idea takes me to the real concept of this movie is about how we should live in moderation. Justine wasn’t allowed to have meat and when she does at school, it causes her to become a cannibal. This is great. We see the more that we get into it, why she wasn’t allowed to eat meat and it is a genetic thing. There’s also a bit of an idea of her parents failing her and the sins being visited on her. Back to the coming age, I think the meat is an interesting correlation to the forbidden fruit and desires. Justine is also a virgin in the beginning. She loses herself in all of this along with Adrien and even Alexia.
That should be enough that I need to delve into with the story here so I’ll think this over to the acting which I thought was top notch. Marillier was perfect in this role. I’m surprised at how talented she was. She is this age and I truly felt like I was watching her actually go through everything that she did. Rumpf did very well as the darker older sibling. She is trying to undo everything their mother instilled, even going as far to cover up things her sister does. Preiss isn’t seen a lot, but you can feel her presence when she is on screen. Oufella also does good as someone is gets caught up in this and clearly is just a pawn being used. I thought the rest of the cast rounded out with what they needed their characters to do.
Effects in this film were amazing. Everything looked to be practical and it got to me. There is a bikini waxing scene that made me cringe. I can’t do the sight of real blood and the film simulates what ends up happening so well that my hands went numb. I shared this, because the effects were that good. The editing of this film is amazing. I like the opening scene and how it gets tied back in during the twist. The film has lower runtime and it is perfect in my opinion. The score of the film didn’t stand out to me, but it definitely fit for what was needed.
Now with that said, I was blown away by this film. It is more than just a cannibal film. There some deeper issues that are explored with this concept in the forefront. The story is something that can be related to despite the darker things. The acting was good. The effects were great as was the editing. The score works for what was needed without standing out. I will say that this film was from France so I watched it with subtitles on. If that is an issue then avoid this. It also is bloody and some of the effects look almost like it is happening. If you have a weak stomach for that, I would recommend avoiding this as well. If not, I think you are in for a truly great film. I highly recommend this if you can take it.
My Rating: 9.5 out of 10