Similar to how Trollhunter was a new take on the old mythical creatures, trolls, Raw, too, was a new take on an old favorite topic, cannibalism. Using Silence of the Lambs as my context, Raw really was a different experience. Of course, Hannibal Lecter looks much scarier than the innocent-looking Justine, no one would guess that she’s actually a cannibal. Raw is still pretty much a horror film. Yet, the film is more than just that. The film also touches up on an awakening of the self and a coming-of-age. Somehow, this acceptance of the self also exudes feminist ideals in a very clever way.
Raw is probably one of the most disturbing films I have watched, along with Apocalypto (2006) and Jeepers Creepers (2001). The scenes when Justine ate a raw rabbit’s liver, when Alexia was trying to give Justine a bikini wax, when she cut her finger off and Justine ate it, and when they were at the morgue (I can go on and on…) are among the plenty scenes that are just way too much to handle, I had to cover my eyes. However, different from the other disturbing films I mentioned, Raw had some quirky and comedic scenes, which help make the film more dynamic and fun to watch. An example of this would be the iconic scene when Alexia and Justine peed while standing up. The whole class burst out laughing, and I laughed with them. It might come off as a joke on the surface. But now, when I think about it deeper, the scene actually hints to women empowerment: indeed, what men can do, women can do too!
It is true that college is a time of self-discovery. And Justine demonstrates this explicitly. During her time in college, she did not just have a complete 180° transformation from being vegetarian to straight up cannibal, she also had a sexual awakening. Justine’s solo dress-up grinding scene in front of a mirror was weird and quite funny, to be honest. But it can also be considered as one of her ways of exploring herself and trying out new things, no matter how strange it may seem. Justine’s 2 major awakenings were both manifested in her sex scene with Adrien. Not only did she lose her virginity in that scene, but she also ecstatically bit her own arm for satisfaction. A coincidence? I don’t think so. This scene was ingenious and well-thought-out, in my opinion, as it successfully encapsulates Justine’s new-found identity.
The fact that the condition traces up from her mother to her sister, expresses female power. The men in their lives, such as her father and Adrien, learned to live with it with no conditions. The way Justine gave in to her desires and embraced herself despite it being a challenge to social norms illustrates a sense of might, power, and courage. And with her father’s expression of acceptance towards her identity by showing her his scars at the end of the film, surely, nothing can stop her now.