Raw: An Unusual and Disturbing Coming-of-Age Story

Image result for raw european filmDisturbing in every possible way, the storytelling in the film Raw from the direction of Julia Ducournau is one of the most clever I have seen yet in the screen. The brutality of the scenes, with blood, violence and tragedy found in every frame, gives off the impression that the film only meant to scare, and to terrify the viewer. Yes, I found myself scared and most definitely terrified. But the scenes were also meant to trigger depth. The scenes uniquely and creatively tell a coming-of-age story, one that has not been told yet in the cinematic sphere making it truly one of a kind.

The storyboard was structured brilliantly—first, introducing the character of the vegetarian Justine in her most innocent self before eventually moving on to the complex and disturbing scenes. At the beginning, her apprehensions to her surroundings manifested through her mannerisms and littleness acts (reserved, soft-spoken) were a stark contrast to what she would eventually be by the end of the film. By establishing this version of Justine empowers the later scenes.

She was introduced as a typical normal girl with a regular family, beginning her first semester of school: sounding like any other ordinary film. But this is not just any other film, as things get messy when she later discover new things about herself, things she only discovered in the unusual setting of the veterinary school. The tension in the irony of her character and setting is the enabler of her late discoveries. She is a lifelong vegetarian studying at a veterinary school, learning about the anatomy of animals. She has surrounded herself with an environment that appears to be in conflict with her ideals and her perceived personality/persona and lifestyle that she grew up with.

Being in this conflict with her environment, Justine finally gave in to her urges. Later on, we see how her urges got bigger and bigger, that she started losing control. I feel as if the material of the film is contextualizing the concept of desire and lust taking over the character of Justine where her late discovery of the flesh magnified the level of desire. Being so different from her initially perceived self, I think she felt more herself, freer. By the end of the film, the walls that she had set at the beginning—soft, quiet, shy—were all broken down, possibly quite literally (with a lot of scenes having broken bones, smashed flesh).

Now that I think about it: the scenes are definitely necessary, even those are insanely graphic and brutal—the finger, the lip—to prove its points. Perhaps, the film is not something that can easily be rewatched. I figured, one is already enough for the film to execute its objective which is to open the eyes of the viewer, both literally (with the chills and goosebumps) and figuratively—there are still things yet to be seen in the world by our small selves. For Justine, her self-discovery was indeed very explicit, vivid, even violent. But the ending truly hit me the most: her dad opened his shirt, uncovering scars on his chest, as he tells her she will eventually learn a solution.

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