Critics' Pick

Raw (R)

Horror 95 min. March 10, 2017
By April Wolfe
Almost no one ever asks young women what they desire -- in movies or reality. Feminine cravings still get seen as a dire threat, a grand disturbance to the power structure. What happens when female characters truly hunger? What if their desires prove as grotesque as society assumes they are? This is the kind of fear director Julia Ducournau sets loose in her riveting body horror Raw, where a young woman comes to understand her own sexuality by way of one of the greatest of taboos: cannibalism.

In the beginning, young teacher's pet Justine (Garance Marillier) is off to veterinarian school in the French countryside, where she'll study alongside her older sister Alex (Ella Rumpf). It's rush week, and Justine and her classmates are subjected to humiliating rituals and tests that show Homo sapiens for what they really are: filthy beasts. Alex forces Justine to break her lifelong vow of vegetarianism to eat a raw rabbit kidney, and -- yes -- this awakens Justine's obsessive thirst for human flesh, a craving so deep it can't be sated merely by her tearing through raw chicken breasts like a feral raccoon as Adrien stares on in disgust.

The joy of this film is that even if Justine weren't a cannibal, the story of two sisters on divergent emotional paths would already be a full helping of horror and humor. Never mind the mutilation and masticating we see from these two ravenous women; my favorite scenes are when Alex teaches Justine how to pee standing up and when Alex coerces Justine into enduring a Brazilian. Raw's fantasy is fresh, funny and grounded in reality.
Julia Ducournau Garance Marillier, Ella Rumpf, Rabah Naït Oufella, Laurent Lucas, Joana Preiss Jean des Forêts Jean des Forêts Focus World

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