Jim Raynor Remastered’s review published on Letterboxd:
What I found to be the most ironically funny while and after watching Raw is that was constantly eating, from some basic chips to outright beef from a barbecue (since we're in the national holidays, so of course we'll be bringing them out). All of this wonder on the critique I saw earlier on how gross this movie is, and while it's correct, it failed to meet my expectations! I don't know if I'm being insensible towards gross things as I dig the darkest corners of the internet. Grizzly murders, deadly diseases, and horrific experiments are in that pile, but never going as far as browsing through the dark web.
Aside from that, it's a pretty wonderful tale of self-discovery in the essence of personality, sexuality, and repressed feelings that are handled with just as much of a gross-factor as Freud puts it. Back into the gross aspect, it is THAT scene that probably all the people that have seen this movie will immediately recognize, made my skin crawl, which is sufficient for me to say that it was effective in its intended role, but how's the rest of the film?
The plot follows Justine (Garance Marillier), a 16 year old girl, a vegetarian like the rest of her family, that starts her first year on veterinary school with the company of a gay roommate and her older sister that is on her second year. Of course in any career that requires a great deal of time, effort and an exceeding number applicants it's gonna have some hazing in it. Excess and denigration aside, Justine voluntarily eats the kidney of a rabbit, and that's where her "real" self starts to unfold and the normality of her family starts to take of its cape.
Cheers for Raw that I could relate to the protagonist and her struggle. Although I gladly didn't get hazed since my career has as much participants as the current population of white rhinos in Africa, the struggle in her first year was what got me. The transition from high-school under the graceful guidance of your parents to the more independent nature of the higher education is a tough one, even for a second year senior like myself I still have some troubles to this day (failing a class, or just preposterous shit like having to validate your credit card balance).
Anyway, let's give a round of applause for Raw for its naturality. I've always considered that European and South-American cinema to have a better understanding at what makes the acting seem natural. The dumb-founded expression in pretty much everyone is the key, while also making sure that people react accordingly to the situation they're in. The humor, while not always hitting, was enough to show sufficient humanity that I always demand from this kind of films. I particularly liked the main lead, contrasting her insecurity with her more subconscious outbursts. The others do surprisingly well and make a noteworthy impression by the end credits.
I purposely kept the plot details hidden, since it would otherwise spoil much of the fun on some of the great scenes or the twists that keep on stacking to account the mystery elements, in this multi--flavored cake that is Raw, which includes drama and body horror. The technical aspects are also great, with a impressive cinematography such as the earliest shot found in the film to the more unsettling scenes with an effective use of lightning. The soundtrack is also pretty nice with a mixture of techno and classical music that corresponds with the setting. The scene with the freshman on their knees on the basement of the apartment building, in total silence, was particularly unnerving.
Raw is great, but not perfect. Aside from the diminished impact of the gross factor already mentioned, I felt that some scenes could have been cut out, it's a refreshing take on the genre (especially considering since this is a debut), and another strong entry in 2017.