When this film was released 2 weeks ago in the UK, I was gutted when my local cinemas decided they weren’t screening it. It was a film that had attracted a lot of attention at the French film festival, and critics had rated it incredibly highly, with one site giving it a 9.2/10 rating, which was pretty brilliant for a film to get those sorts of reviews nowadays, they`re not as easy. So, when my local ODEON in Brighton announced that they were showing a one-off screening of it on Tuesday evening, I had to take the chance to go and check out the film. Was it a film that was going to do the reviews and high scores justice? Or was it going to be a rather disappointment? Well, I quite enjoyed it, but be prepared, because it`s not going to be for the faint-hearted.
RAW is a French-Belgium film directed by Julia Ducournau, and is in French with English subtitles. It tells the story of teenager Justine, who is a vegetarian, and goes off to vet school, in the dream of becoming a vet. However, after tasting a piece of raw meat, she discovers a crave and a hunger for meat, whether that`s animal or human. Throughout the film, we`re shown to a story of Justine and her older sister, Alexia, who is also at the vet school, and that they both suffer with the same condition, and that both feed off meat. The film ends with a twist in the story as it`s revealed by their father that their mother had the same condition and cannibalistic desires, but they stuck together and made it work.
Now, although the film had done incredibly well at the festivals and was being given high reviews and ratings, it did come with its controversy. Some reports from early screenings were that people were taking in sick bags to the screening and reports that some fainted after watching the film. The BBFC`S rating of an 18 certificate was an early indicator that you`d be in for some strong detail and stuff throughout the film, and there certainly is and it works well with the horror element. I can watch almost anything and have seen a lot of strong horror content in my time of watching films, but this must be up there with one of the strongest films I`ve seen. Two woman in my screening left halfway through – Perhaps it was because of the film and its content? I`m not sure. But you`re going to be in for some shock. Two scenes most notably are where Alexia has her finger cut off accidently, and Justine, with her craving for meat, decides to eat off it, and one of the penultimate scenes where it is revealed that Alexia, has killed Justine`s room-mate, Adrien, and eaten most of his right leg and we`re shown quite a graphic close of that. In line with the BBFC`s guidance of Strong gory images, be warned, because you`re going to get just that.
The film tells the story of Justine in vet school, and for me, I could see lots of references to vet school being the same as University. Having room-mates and dormitory’s to having parties in the evening to attending lectures in big lecture halls. It`s a big reference to university life.
The story is a good story, and it does get interesting to see where it ends. It`s quite interesting to see the strong transformation of Justine and her character, and she`s portrayed really well by Garance Marillier, who is seen as the main point of focus throughout the film. It is a very strong film in terms of its content, there`s no doubt about that. But if you don’t mind the gruesome stuff, you`re going to get quite a decent film and something that`s quite different to what you`ve seen recently. There isn’t many stories and films that deal with the concept of Cannabalism, but RAW does it in a way that the sole focus isn’t solely on that and doesn’t take it to the extreme of some films I`ve seen in the past. Either way, if you`ve got the chance to catch it, then it`s worth the viewing.
Cast: Garance Marillier, Ella Rumpf, Rabah Nait Oufella, Laurent Lucas, Joana Preiss, Bouli Lanners, Marion Vernoux, Jean-Louis Sbille
Director: Julia Ducournau
BBFC Rating: 18 – Strong Gory Images and Injury detail