Rather than the gore-endurance test the marketing suggests, Raw shows its hand early as a startlingly intimate coming-of-age story centred around a complicated sororal relationship that is spiced up considerably by Julia Ducournau’s delightful gallows humour. The most upsetting moments in the film are not the moments of cannibalism (which are generally just hilarious), but the emotional pain inflicted through the semi-incestuous rivalry at the heart of the picture. Raw is about one woman trying to balance what it means to be a mature human person and what it means to be a mature human animal – and it’s also about her sister, trying and failing to be a teacher.
I mean, this was basically made for me, the tone is exactly my bag, and I guffawed multiple times in the theatre, especially when cued by the guttural, heavy metal organ soundtrack. Ducourneau has an eye for detail and character (she’s willing to go on these little amazing narrative detours just to add a flavourful side character, like a sassy old man with dentures), and this is a hell of a debut.
After the screening I saw, there was a brief discussion with a few female critics, and the best thing that came out of it was when one of the critics (whose first name I remember but of which I will refuse to butcher the spelling) said, “Heteronormativity is the true monster.” And the whole audience started hooting and hollering.