By Ryan Keating-Lambert
RAW is much more than a marketing campaign for gore and horror, it’s a fiercely original and well-directed coming-of-age piece, with some subtle nods to feminism… and some not so subtle nods to cannibalism.
Directed by Julie Ducournou, RAW tells the tale of Justine (Garance Mariller), a shy vegetarian girl trying to survive the harsh hazing rituals inflicted upon her and her first year classmates.
This is the second time Ducournou has used young actress Garance Marillier (Junior), in a part which Ducournou originally thought she’d be too young for, when in actual fact, she’s the perfect fit. Marillier radiates innocence and curiosity. Justine goes through both a physical and mental transformation that is heightened dramatically by the pressures of university, and the misfits that attend, including her older sister Alexia (Ella Rumpf) who is more or less a wilder version of herself.
The two have an addictive on screen chemistry and are able to play out the ups and downs exceedingly well. They even introduce some well-needed humour and sisterly love, despite there being a lot of darker moments throughout the film. However, they never push the film into B-grade schlock territory which requires tremendous skill.
RAW is bloody, that’s for sure. However, to plaster words like ‘fainting’ and ‘sick-bags’ and ‘paramedics’ all over the news is a bit of an exaggeration, even if it is a good marketing strategy. It first made headlines at TIFF last year where a few audience members supposedly passed out. You know your limits. If you’ve got a weak stomach, go and see Beauty and the Beast, you’ll have a much safer and mediocre experience.
The most enjoyable thing about this film though, is its originality. It shocks but it shocks with thought. Everyone can identify with Justine and her position, in terms of being the new girl and being a victim of your own body, I mean. If you’re a cannibal, please seek psychological advice or join a tribe where it’s actually practised.
There are some predictable moments, but also a lot of surprises and some intense plot twists. A banging soundtrack and well-crafted colour palette really make RAW burst with energy and curiosity. You want to look away, but just can’t resist.
Ducournou has succeeded in making a wonderful hybrid of horror and dramedy with zero pretension. It’s a very tasty meal. Catch it again at Bio OKO tonight at 20:30.
Photo: Morbidly Beautiful