Raw movie review: girly gory allegory

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MaryAnn’s quick take…

Cinema as a punch in the gut and not for the squeamish, casting female desire as ravenously predatory in a way that few films have ever had the audacity to do.tweet
I’m “biast” (pro): I’m desperate for stories about women
I’m “biast” (con): not much of a horror fan
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Teen Justine (newcomer Garance Marillier) gets a barbaric welcome as a new student at her veterinary college: the horrifying hazing she is subjected to starts off like a riot, moves on to something akin to being taken hostage, and ends with being dunked in animal blood. The initiation also requires that she consume a raw rabbit kidney, which is extra disgusting to her because she’s a vegetarian. She’s not being picked on especially: all the freshmen go through this. And it sets a savage stage for what comes next: a taste for flesh is awakened in Justine that grows until it compels her to do some terrible things. This first feature from French writer-director Julia Ducournau won a slew of awards at festivals last year, and they are well deserved: Raw is cinema as a punch in the gut, not for the squeamish or the faint of heart but hugely rewarding in how it mines fiercely visceral emotional reactions out of insistent, shocking visualstweet that dare us not to look away. Via shy, virginal Justine’s first confrontations with the grownup world of sex and self-determination, Ducournau turns the the awful, violent things girls do to their own bodies — waxing, purging — outward on others, and casts female desire as ravenously predatory in a way that few films have ever had the audacity to dotweet; the way Justine leers at her friend Adrien (Rabah Nait Oufella: Girlhood), as he runs around innocently shirtless playing soccer, turns an already rare female gaze spectacularly greedy. (The fact that he is gay renders him even more heedless of her hunger, and hence her hunger even more dangerous to him.) Bold and brutal, Raw takes up the gauntlet of the female coming-of-age story and smacks us across the face with its outrageous originality.tweet



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Reese1379
Reese1379
Thu, Apr 20, 2017 7:43pm

No doubt it’s an allegory for the human condition etc. But I have to ask myself do I want to watch a movie depicting cannibalism at a veterinary school and the answer is a big no. I do despair at what passed for modern culture. Invoking feelings of shock and revulsion in the viewer do not a work of art make. Invariably, as long as it grosses out the viewer then it’s deemed art. But then again who am I to criticize this, I am after all a member of the repressive patriarchy.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Reese1379
Tue, Apr 25, 2017 11:25am

Invoking feelings of shock and revulsion in the viewer do not a work of art make.

True. And I never said that they do.

Invariably, as long as it grosses out the viewer then it’s deemed art.

Also something I did not say.

I am after all a member of the repressive patriarchy.

We all are.

Paul Weissman
Paul Weissman
reply to  Reese1379
Tue, Apr 25, 2017 5:07pm

Evoking a feeling of shock and revulsion in the hands of a talented filmmaker allows you to empathize with the human condition. And Ducournau is as talented as they come. You will also find a great deal of humor and compassion and one of the most honest depictions of sisterhood (of the familial) kind I’v seen in any film, horror or otherwise.

Reese1379
Reese1379
reply to  Paul Weissman
Wed, Apr 26, 2017 10:29pm

> Evoking a feeling of shock and revulsion in the hands of a talented filmmaker allows you to empathize with the human condition ..

In my opinion it would tend to desensitise one to the unpleasant experiences of others. Personally I’d prefer cheerful and happy anyday.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Reese1379
Fri, Apr 28, 2017 11:08am

Girls’ and womens’s experiences of the world are quite frequently not cheerful and happy…. and men often remain blissfully unaware of women’s experiences. Movies like this can change that.

Hannes Minkema
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Sun, Jul 09, 2017 12:48pm

I am a man. Would you maintain that after seeing ‘Raw’, I now have become ‘aware of women’s experiences’?

If the gender of ‘Raw’s characters had been reversed, would you now ‘have become aware of men’s experiences’?

Even if we call for that rather lazily applicable concept ‘metaphor’, it is still a long stretch, innit?

Danielm80
Danielm80
reply to  Hannes Minkema
Sun, Jul 09, 2017 3:05pm

Each time you see a movie about a woman, you become aware of that woman’s experiences. Whether or not you’re sympathetic to those experiences depends on you.

About 70% of the movies that come out each year center around men. That adds up to hundreds of different movies, and if you watch enough of them, you see that there are lots of different kinds of men in the world, leading vastly different lives.

There are much fewer movies about women, and a whole lot of those women are stereotypes. Movies like Raw, whether or not you like them, break some of those stereotypes, and if the women in it are really compelling characters, you may keep thinking about them long after you’ve seen the film. They become part of your idea of What Women are Like. Every film about a complex, fully-developed female character adds one new person to that list.

Of course, if you go to see the movie firmly convinced that the stereotypes about women are true, you’ll probably continue to believe them after the movie’s over. That part is up to you.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Hannes Minkema
Wed, Jul 12, 2017 12:20pm

I am a man. Would you maintain that after seeing ‘Raw’, I now have become ‘aware of women’s experiences’?

I don’t know you, but even it I did, I wouldn’t necessarily be able to say how aware of women’s experiences you are. But the fact is that men’s experiences have been explored in far more depth and intimacy in our pop culture and in our non-pop culture than women’s experiences have. *Everything* about our culture has been geared to teaching *everything* to sympathize and understand straight white men, so everyone who isn’t a straight white man *inevitably* has a deeper understanding of straight white men than straight white men have of everyone else. It is time for straight white men to start paying attention to everyone else’s stories.

So, no, if the genders of this story were reversed, it would add nothing to my understanding of men, because I’m pretty much full up on that already,