Raw (France)

Hard Knocks


10 March 2017| No Comments on Raw (France)     by Sean Chavel


So weird, even more so because everything is presented as if it were the normal. Raw (France) is a categorizable horror film, but not a conventional one. It is an avante-garde sociological horror that is open to countless interpretations. My interpretation is that this is what university colleges would look like if hazing fraternities had more power than the professors. Everything about the everyday cycle pushes students to be more aggressive, more hardened, shaping a bully and sheep contrast between “elders” and underclassmen. In the film, Justine (Garance Marillier) is a vegetarian at veterinarian school who immediately learns how to cut up animals and experiment on them, is forced by hazing to eat a rabbit kidney and to be doused in animal blood, and nonetheless, quickly adapts to her environment. She also learns to love the taste of meat, all kinds of it.

Justine goes to school with her rebel sister (Ella Rumpf) and is paired with a male roommate (Rabah Nait Oufella) which is acceptable because, as it is tersely explained, he is gay so it does not matter. He turns out to be bi-sexual, but that’s more his issue than anybody else’s. As for classes, the professor and student relationship is, well, rather impersonal. One professor, however, boldly tells Justine that high expectations on her because of her parents’ credentials, and that also he hopes that a person like her fails. What’s strange is that Justine, who subsequently gets into the habit of blood-drinking once she gets sloshed after hours, seems like a person nevertheless who would succeed in any society – either this twisted society or our realistic society. She is steadfast and determined, and has rather strong and tactful clinical observations when it comes to her school subjects.

Deserving lots of praise is Marillier, who has an incredibly effective presence for this kind of film: placid, unsuspecting, bookwormish. A sheltered girl ready though to let it all hang out.

“Raw” is, I think, a film that is more disturbing than “Children of Men” or “A Clockwork Orange.” It is bleak and relentless, and blasé about it. This was a rare case where I hated watching the movie because it was squirmy, galling and stomach-turning, and I don’t squirm easy. This film also has a lot more cerebral ideas perhaps than those aforementioned films, and those are notable and commendable comparisons. “Raw” is not for everyone, but it will have a place in film history.

What do I think the film is saying? The hazing mentality is the institution, to throw students into the hard knocks of life unsparingly. This is coupled with the worldview that the young of today are less empathetic and more fearful of countering mindless authority than in any generation before us. As I’m in the middle of viewing it: I’m left anxious to try and get through this film as fast as I can, but I cannot stop watching. I was surprised at myself how uncomfortable I was watching a forced closet makeout session between a young man and young woman while splattered in paint.

“Raw” is arguably repetitious in its degeneracy, but it has you wondering what one has to do in order to go too far and commit a crime punishable by state? The film finally gets there in its final passages with its sprung surprise reveals of the other characters.

The film’s director is Julia Ducournau, her first full-length feature.

98 Minutes. Rated R.


Film Cousins: “A Clockwork Orange” (1971); “Children of Men” (2006); “The Hunting Ground” (2015); “The Lobster” (2016, Greece).

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


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