starring Garance Marillier, Ella Rumpf, Rabah Naït Oufella, Marion Vernoux
written and directed by Julia Ducournau
by Walter Chaw A spiritual blood sister of Claire Denis's Trouble Every Day, Julia Ducournau's feature debut Raw is a crystallization of the last couple years' steady creep towards unabashedly gyno-centric fare. Kimberly Peirce's unfairly derided Carrie, which Raw references in one of its canniest, funniest moments, gathers monstrously in the rearview as a film doomed to have been just ahead of its time--literally hours away from being justly hailed as harbinger of a period of Furiosas and Reys, of It Follows and The Witch and The Green Room and more. As genre fare, Raw is as raw as it could be, the tale of a vegan first-year veterinary school student named Justine (Garance Marillier) who is submitted to a series of cruel hazing rituals that introduce her to body-image issues, existential crises, eating disorders, and the taste of sweet, sweet animal protein. You know, freshman year. Ducournau captures it all beautifully: the horror of being away, of surrendering to the higher university mind, of experimenting with drugs and drink and sex and becoming a full inhabitant of the desires and fears that will fuel the rest of your life. There's a scene early on where Justine visits a doctor (French writer and director Marion Vernoux) that reminds of the sequences in Jacob's Ladder where Jacob visits his angelic chiropractor. It's shot differently from the rest of the film. It's brighter. The film will never be this bright again.