Caged Cannibals: Reflections on Raw

For all of us, college was a scary step into a new world of freedom. Compared to high school, the authority that limited our experiences now really couldn’t care less about what we do in college. We’re allowed to mingle more, go out, and experience even the things that we thought were bad when we were younger. Having this much freedom after growing up in a very secure environment was sort of a drug to many because of the excitement it brings. In the movie Raw directed by Julia Ducournau, the character Alexia best exemplifies this as she openly and even initiates many of the wild college activities we see in the film. Yet there are some, like Alexia’s sister, Justine, whose first experience of college is a scary step outside the safety of her once innocent life. The interactions between the two sisters show us the kind of growth the youth experience on their last step towards adulthood. Sometimes however, this experience can go beyond our own limitations, pushing us to do things we never even considered doing. In the film’s case, cannibalism could possibly be the best way to show such transition, as both girls grow into the almost primitive life in college.

More than just a cannibal film, Raw shows us a perspective on the coming-of-age of two sisters, who seem to be polar opposites of each other. Alexia shows a more liberated and carefree attitude, while Justine seems to be timid and uptight at first. But, as the story progresses, it was discovered that the two had a taste for human flesh. It was through their cannibalistic experiences together, which began with Justine eating her sister’s finger, that they were able to open themselves up to conflict not just within themselves and with each other, but also with their lives outside the comfort of their restrictive parents.

Cannibalism was a way to show how the two girls were growing out of their youth. However, in my perspective, such actions were symbolic of the extreme ways they experienced such event. It showed them in a primitive light; almost animal-like and without a care for morals and ethics. They were hungry for the freedom they got, so much so that they couldn’t get enough of it. It was violent because it was as if they were so limited and restricted in their lives with their parents that the splurged on bad habits in college. Yet, the mistakes that they did often resulted to maturity. Justine best exemplifies this by the way her character progresses in the film. At first, she was uneasy with her new life but grew into it and even began taking care of her sister, despite harming her. A necessary violence, whether physical or emotional, was necessary for both sisters to realize the maturity that is needed outside their restrictive family lives, most especially with each other.

The film may have been gory, but it does not fail to show us a piece of our lives in college, or that transition stage between childhood to adulthood. It shows us that freedom can be both liberating and violent. I have to say that Raw is one of my favorites so far because it was able to utilize the coming-of-age theme by applying grotesque scenes such as cannibalism.

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