IT’S NOT OFTEN that a movie will leave me feeling that strange, eerie sense of detachment.
As if one’s soul has been ripped away from the body and thrust into the open space to drift in the emptiness.
It’s a feeling of confusion that leaves you wondering what took place that makes you feel a strange mix of emptiness and euphoria.
The last time I can recall feeling this way, was after viewing Gaspar Noe’s controversial movie, Irreversible.
Although Raw deals with a completely different subject matter, it does something similar in crashing head long into a terrain that some may find difficult to handle, and perhaps too confrontational, but in both cases, they are subjects that warrant addressing with a fresh new take, in order to shake things up a bit.
On face value there are some that might be turned away at the prospect of Raw, the tale of vegetarian Justine, (Garance Mariller, who incidentally delivers a stunning performance) who loses all sense of herself in her first week of veterinary school and eats raw meat for the first time.
All the trailers and imagery surrounding the movie have centred on a bloody Justine, who on one hand heightens the gore factor, but what it fails to convey is the sheer depth of this movie.
It’s more than a sensationalist shock-fest and deep down is a coming-of-age story.
When Justine is dropped off at University, she’s somewhat abandoned to her own devices by her parents to make her way in this strange new land.
Her only lifeline comes from her older sister, Alexia, (played by Ella Rumpf, who is equally charismatic and engaging on screen) but is far from the person that Justine once knew and because of this finds it hard to connect with.
The early scenes at the University are immersed in a world of chaos and anarchy – an almost Lord of the Flies situation, where the “Elders” are left to rule the roost and the teachers appear strangely absent and willing for the wild parties and engagements to reign.
It’s an indication to of our times and Director, Julia Ducournau in her feature debut, certainly has her finger on the pulse capturing the very heart of the youth’s struggles as they reach their sexual awakening with only each other to turn to in order to learn from. And sometimes we might not like what we see.
Admittedly, I found the first 20 minutes hard to get into, but as soon as I was immersed in the world that was created, I became instantly absorbed and willing to be taken along Justine’s journey of elation, repulsion, disgust, and delight.
The confusion she feels as she experience all these emotions at the same time, leaves her in disarray, and what at first appears to be a cruel turning point when her taste for the flesh lunges for the one lifeline that she has, only to have the tables turn in a deliciously exciting way.
The relationship that Justine has with Alexia is vital for this movie to pay off and relies on the strength of both actors. It beautifully captures that whole love/hate sibling rivalry, where blood is thicker than water and sometimes family is all we have to rely on at a time when the very thought of that couldn’t be further from the truth.
The more I think of it, the more beautiful and powerful a movie Raw appears to be. It evokes so much emotion that it lifts you up on high and lets you marinade in the bloody mess that is left behind.
Even as I write this up, I can feel that same sense of elation deep in my core.
It’s hard to shake and I can’t recommend this movie enough.
A glorious insight into the chrysalis of youth, what emerges is a thing of beauty.
I can only marvel at the wondrous sight that was presented and watch it soar high into the atmosphere.
By far and away, the best movie I’ve seen this year, and I could venture to say, the best movie I’ve seen in the last few years.
Do yourself a favour.
Go and see this movie and have your own celluloid awakening with this feast for the eyes.
– Paul Farrell