Second Sight has made a package that shows the true joy of physical media with their new release of Julia Ducournau’s 2016 film Raw. A special edition release that is worthy of the film that it accompanies.
Shy student Justine (Garance Marillier) heads to a veterinary school and is subjected to a brutal series of hazing rituals from fellow students. And it’s even more challenging for vegetarian Justine as she is covered in blood and forced to eat raw meat. But after tasting the flesh, Justine finds herself craving even more meat – and it doesn’t matter if it’s animal or human, as her uncontrollable desires lead to a horrific outcome.
It still surprises that Raw was Julia Ducournau’s first feature; there is an astounding amount of confidence in her filmmaking and script that you would think she was a veteran. Ducournau made herself a director to look out for with Raw and allowed us to take a step back from the usual cannibal fair (Hi Stay Alive!). This is a high concept piece that doesn’t need any tricks to sell itself, it is full of shocking moments for sure, and these scenes shock you into being as alert as you have ever been.
As Justine goes down a rabbit hole of freedom, you sit a little straighter, and you do so not only because of what we are witnessing but because of how tainted Justine has become in this environment. Before she attends school, while repressed from living a life with any form of freedom, she is innocent of the going on’s outside of her safe bubble. After she attends school, she is awakened, for better or worse, she knows of life outside of that bubble, and she has a large number of chances to go back to her bubble or take a more conservative direction to what she eventually does. As the seductive temptation of this new world envelopes her, we quickly know that our hopes for her are diminishing with every second.
Ducrounau and cinematographer Ruben Impens fill their film with vivid images throughout, and by dulling the world with greys, when those reds come into the movie, they feel more visceral. When any artificial colour comes in, a memorable screen of Justine and fellow students covered in paint utilises colour so well. So simply you wonder why more don’t utilise these techniques more.
Raw is a film that stays with you long after viewing. This is a film that delivers on every level and does so in such a unique way. Yes, you can see its influences. But Julia Durcounau perfectly created a debut that is as dark as it is humorous and, most importantly, uses the horror genre to her advantage and makes sure she leaves us with a film that has a message. A wonderful film.
What makes Raw so much more interesting is that it isn’t just a tale of cannabilism; it is a coming of age story that allows itself to venture down multiple avenues that the audience sees. This could easily have gone down the extreme French horror route, yet it knows it is more than that and can elevate itself. Perhaps that is why audiences struggled with it all the way back at TIFF? The nihilism subverts what you are seeing, so the violent moments strike with you all that more.
Film – ★★★★
• The Girl Can’t Help It: a new interview with Actor Garance Marillier
• Making Ends Meat: a new interview with Producer Jean des Forets
• New audio commentary by film critic Alexandra West
• Audio Commentary with Julia Ducournau and film critic Emma Westwood
• In the Name of Raw: an interview with Director Julia Ducournau
• A Family Affair: a new video essay by film critic Alexandra Heller-Nicholas
• Raw À Votre Goût –featurette with Julia Ducournau & film critic Emma Westwood
• Quick Bites with Julia Ducournau and film critic Alexandra Heller-Nicholas
• Genre Matters Panel Discussion
• Australian Premiere Introduction
• Australian Premiere Q&A with Julia Ducournau and Kier-La Janisse
• Alternative opening, deleted scenes, trailers’ Shocking but not sensationalist, this is a strong cannibal movie worth chewing over’ Kim Newman, Empire
LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS
• Rigid slipcase
• Perfect-bound booklet with new essays by Hannah Woodhead and Emma Westwood plus an interview with Julia Ducournau by Lou Thomas
• Three collectors’ art cards
Needless to say, after all of that, Second Sight has given us something special with this disc. With two commentaries, you always have that fear that they will duplicate information and basically cancel each other out. Not so with these two terrific commentaries, the Julia Durcournau and Emma Westwood are great for those who want to learn about the film as the duo fill us with vital and interesting tidbits throughout. We hear about the inspirations for some scenes and some fun information about what that raw meat really was.
Then we have the second commentary by Alexandra West that deftly explores the film’s ideas and what the meanings could be. It truly becomes a fascinating listen and my personal favourite of the two.
We then go into several reasonable length interviews with lead Garance Marillier and producer Jean des Forêts that runs around a quarter of an hour each. Here we learn about Marillier and Ducournau’s relationship before Raw. With answers about her experience throughout the film, we see the actor’s side of the film that is told in a rather interesting manner. With director Julia Ducournau’s interview, we are given almost 50 minutes worth of the film’s entire life cycle. From the beginnings of the screenplay and what influences other films had on the script. It is another great interview and one that is almost essential for future female filmmakers.
With the other special features, we get even more in-depth looks at Raw, such as Raw À Votre Goût that allows us to see Ducournau’s journey as a filmmaker. The Australian Premiere Q&A and the Genre Matters Discussion Panel enables the disc to expand on what you would expect. It really feels as if Second Sight went out and tried to find any good pieces regarding our filmmaker and the film and bring it into one brilliant package. If you enjoyed Raw, this is an absolutely essential purchase.
Special Features – ★★★★★
Second Sight releases Raw now available here.