The Hunger Games

Raw (d. Julia Ducournau; 2017)

Without a doubt, Raw was the most disturbing movie of the class thus far. From people just outright yelling to people audibly gasping and looking away from the screen, it was certainly something that will remain in my mind for quite some time. And yet a few days after watching Raw, the more I realize that the film was more than just a movie meant to disturb or terrify. In fact, now that I think about it, Raw may also be a coming-of-age movie of sorts, although a bloody and violent one.

The main storyline of the film can be summed up in a simple sentence – and IMDB honestly nails it: “An innocent teenager, studying to be a vet, develops a craving for human flesh.” That’s the basic premise of the film, with the rest of it mainly concerning itself with how she reacts to this newfound craving and how her personality changes, most especially how the lead character handles her relationship with her sister and her attraction to her roommate.

I mentioned that the film almost might be a coming-of-age movie, and the reason for that is that after the main character begins her cravings, she begins to act much more liberated. Instead of being soft-spoken and reserved, she is more outgoing and impulsive. Once she wants something, she does anything to satisfy her cravings and it’s almost as if the movie is commentary on how one giving in too much to their urges is too much. 

In fact, one of the more disturbing scenes in the film that actually contains no violence is a scene where the lead performs a dance in front of the mirror. She puts lipstick on, dances provocatively, and even outright kisses her mirror multiple times, all while a French pop song with a disorienting techno background with lyrics involving extreme sexual undertones plays. It goes to show that as much as her cravings for actual human flesh have come to the surface, so to have the other kind of cravings come to her life. Another is when she looks longingly at her roommate playing soccer. From the way she stares at him and her nose begins to bleed, it is almost uncertain if she is looking at him in the lens of attraction or the lens of hunger, and the dizzy and zig-zag camera work helps make this scene feel uncomfortable to watch.

It is this duality in violence and coming of age themes that makes Raw a unique movie to think about. While I definitely think that the violence and gore alone makes it almost a certainty that I do not want to see the film again, it is discussion of the film and thinking about its themes after that makes it stand out even more in my mind as something to remember, and part of why the film is so memorable is this said violence.

The violence of Raw is easily its biggest talking point. It is violent, it is brutal, to the point where I read that the film supposedly made people at Cannes throw up and go to the bathroom. Without mincing words, especially considering the reactions of the class, this is something that I absolutely get. A finger is cut off, part of a lip is bitten off, and full-on depictions of dead animals are shown… and yet the violence of Raw almost feels necessary to show the events of the film. Is it graphic? Yes. Is it brutal? Absolutely. And yet it never feels like blood and gore for the sake of blood and gore. For lack of a better word, the violence in Raw is tasteful and fitting to the film’s tone. It is this almost necessary graphic violence that really drives the film’s themes home.

At the end of it all, Raw is an unforgettable film. It is terrifying in its violence, thought-provoking in its themes, and all-in-all, this is certainly one of the more uncompromising and graphic views on growing up and coming of age.

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