Goat (easily done) and Burning Sands. This is the Sundance
hazing film that has real bite. As a first-year student at veterinary college,
Justine will be drenched in animal blood and forced to eat uncooked liver as
part of the initiation rituals. It all horribly disgusts the vegetarian, until
her tastes start to radically change in Julia Ducournau’s Raw (trailer
which screened at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.
driving Justine to her prestigious but way-the-heck-and-gone vet school, her
parents throw a fit when a bit of sausage strays into her mashed potatoes.
However, her upper classmen sister Alexia is not so supportive during hazing
week (every week is hazing week at this school). She tells her flat-out to eat
the darned liver, popping one down the hatch herself, leaving Justine disappointed
by her sister’s apparent departure from family custom and hurt by the betrayal.
Justine’s health suffers, most likely the result of bacteria from the raw meat
(you think, maybe?). Her relationship with her sister also strains to its
breaking point, due Justine’s resentment of Alexia’s bullying and her sister’s
jealousy of her curve-shattering academic brilliance. In fact, things will get
very bad between them, in ways that ought to irreversibly sever their
relationship. Simultaneously, Justine also starts to crave meat—more specifically
raw human flesh.
Ducournou’s conflation of sexual empowerment with cannibalism is rather awkwardly
on-the-nose. However, the rich emotional complexity of the bitter sibling rivalry
stands Raw in a category all its own.
These sisters are something else entirely. Docournou constantly calls and raises
their excesses in ways that make the jaw slacken.
fact, Garance Marillier and Ella Rumpf are both pretty incredible as Justine
and Alexia, arguably giving two of the best performances you will ever see from
thesps drenched in gore. As Justine (a name that deliberately carries
associations with the notorious de Sade), the former is a nest of twitchy sexual
insecurities, while the latter is an edgy, brooding bundle of accrued sleights
and resentments, somewhat resembling a younger, Frencher, gother Rachel Weisz. Initially,
it seems Laurent Lucas (probably best known for Fabrice Du Welz’s Alléluia and Calvaire) is ridiculously under-employed as Justine’s father, but
he will have his moment.
If this is how they train vets in France than jet-setters
should probably keep all their pets here in America. Regardless, Raw is such an intense film, precisely
because it is so personal and intimate. Frankly, it really is the sort of
family cannibalism drama We Are What We
Are was supposedly cracked up to be. Highly recommended for cult cinema
connoisseurs, Raw opens in select
theaters March 10th, after screening at this year’s Sundance.
Labels: Cannibalism on film, French Cinema, Sundance '17