Archives For European Cinema

Raw (2016)

September 3, 2017 — Leave a comment

After being force-fed meat during a hazing ritual, veterinarian student and hardcore vegetarian Justine (Garance Marillier) begins to develop an unhealthy interest in cannibalism in this surprisingly beautiful feature from French director Julie Ducournau. Surprisingly beautiful because when one hears the term ‘cannibal’ they’d be forgiven for conjuring up images from the works of Ruggero Deodato. What they probably won’t imagine is something like Raw, which goes outside the norm of what we would consider body horror.

Justine’s parents expect her to be a vet, and make the lifestyle choice of vegetarianism more akin to an indoctrination. At school, she reluctantly partakes in hazing so that she doesn’t stand out too much and embarrass her older sister, Alexia (Ella Rumpf), who attends the same school. Justine’s growing appetite for flesh may be highly unusual, but it serves as just another thing in her life that has been forced upon her. Yet as Raw progresses, we do see her try to embrace it and from doing so, she begins to develop and grow from a young girl into a grown woman who craves her own mind. When sister dearest admits to having the same predilections and invites her to her own carnivorous world, Justine chooses that moment to be her own person. Raw is as much a coming of age drama as it is a horror.

Read the rest of the review here.

Directed by Olivier Assayas (Irma Vep), Stewart plays Maureen, a personal shopper to French actress to French celebrity Kyra (Nora von Waldstatten), who leads a rather solitary existence in Paris spending her free time bewetten her bedsit and a large country house. The reason for the disparity in her dwellings is that the latter belonged to her late twin brother, Lewis, who Maureen believes she can connect to in the afterlife. This isn’t an idea she’s suddenly woken up to, but one that comes from the siblings shared belief that they’re both a little bit psychic and, should one of them die, they will send a message from the other side. Maureen also believes that she is going to die of the same heart defect as her brother and this seems to fuel her desire for connection. If you were pretty sure that you could die soon, wouldn’t you want at least an assurance from someone other worldly who could tell what to expect? Like TripAdvisor for ghosts?

This obessession – and it is an obsession – with ghosts and spirits appears to be a way in which Maureen can staunchly refuse to accept her brother’s passing. It has taken its toll on her and, as a result, she’s collection of twitches and dark ringed eyes wrapped up in an oversized jumper. It can’t be overstated what a brilliant performance this is from Stewart. Thoughts are drawn to her unique turn in the rather dull Equals; you can’t take your eyes off her. Through her, Maureen displays an attitude towards her boss to others, but cannot stand up to her when needed; a thread in the narrative sees Maureen failing to return some clothing on loan from a boutique because Kyra has decided she’ll keep it.

Read the rest of the review here.