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By James Whittington, Wednesday 28th April 2021 Raw (Special Edition) Second Sight Films Certificate 18
Original movies are few and far between but Raw manages to take a well-worn trope and give it a grim, contemporary and sophisticated twist. Its brutal, charming and in some ways innocent but don't be lulled into a false sense of security, the movie is, as the title suggests very, very raw.
Shy student Justine (Garance Marillier), heads to a veterinary school and is subjected a tough series of hazing rituals from fellow students. And it's even tougher for vegetarian Justine as she is covered in blood and forced to eat raw meat. But after tasting the flesh, Justine finds herself craving even more meat - and it doesn't matter if it's animal or human as her uncontrollable desires lead to a horrific outcome.
This film, wrongly billed by many as a "horror movie", Raw is actually a disturbing look at one woman's descent into a bizarre, and unpredictable situation rather than shocks. Shot in bleak tones with harsh details, Raw is a film which pushes the boundaries of what the viewer can stomach whilst delivering an emotional and truly heart-breaking story. Its not completely dark and flashes of comedy peek through the darkness from time to time but on the whole, this is an uncomfortable but compelling piece of cinema.
Garance Marillier is a revelation in this movie. Her performance is outstanding as Justine. At first, she's a delicate, stooped, down-trodden young adult but as the movie progresses, she develops into a ballsy and determined person with an appetite for more than just life. Ella Rumpf plays Justine's sister Alexia with a self-knowing edge, arrogant edge which somehow brings the two closer together. I also have to mention Rabah Nait Oufella who plays roommate Adrien, a bit of a player who gets entangled in what only can be described as a "bloody violent mess"!
Comparisons to this and Pascal Laugier's Martyrs are inevitable as it's a bold, unflinching movie which doesn't shy from illustrating its main intention, but its more balanced than that.
This special edition contains new features on the menu including interviews with star Garance Marilier and producer Jean des Forets, a new commentary from critic Alexandra West, as well as interviews and commentaries from Julia Ducournau.
The transfer is bold, and the extreme colour scheme remains solid and bleak throughout, whilst the original French soundtrack remains sharp and clear throughout.
Raw is a prime example of Euro horror and though it won't appeal to everyone it is a masterclass in storytelling and tension.
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