In Julia Ducournau’s Raw, going to college in France makes the infamous process of pledgeship seem like child’s play.
From the first moment Justine arrives at veterinary school, she is plunged in a world of mockery and submission. The upperclassmen force all the “rookies” to undergo a sort of initiation including, but not limited to, being doused in animal blood and eating raw organs.
Justine, a star student with a prodigious intellect, is unwilling to submit herself to the chaos. When she is handed an uncooked rabbit kidney, she refuses to eat it. It is only when her sister forces her mouth open that Justine gives in and complies.
Justine comes to feel broken. A lifelong vegetarian, she develops an insatiable desire for raw meat.
It is this grotesque habit that drives the momentum of the plot. In nightmarish scene after nightmarish scene, Justine becomes more and more animalistic. As it turns out, raw chicken is a gateway meat.
Raw is not a movie for the faint of heart. Few films have ever had the courage to exhibit such a shocking display of immorality. Sex, violence and debauchery make up a considerable portion of Ducournau’s film.
Only in a world desensitized by broadcast media and blockbuster movies could audiences tolerate such an unforgiving portrait of humanity. Ultimately, the worth of such a film boils down to an age-old question: Does the end justify the means?
Like many French films, Raw leaves its audience with a treasure trove worth of questions, many of which concern morality and our role in the animal kingdom. All of these questions ring with validity, but does Ducournau push the audience too far?
Younger viewers will almost certainly be able to tolerate the demented sentiments of Raw. However, even if something is tolerable, even if you can stuff it down your throat like raw rabbit kidney, it does not mean that it deserves to be seen.
MOVE gives Raw 3 out of 5 stars.