Sunday, March 28, 2021

Raw – Blu-Ray review

Director: Julia Ducournau

Release date: 2016

Contains Spoilers  

French genre movie Raw is getting a limited-edition Blu-Ray release in the UK (release date April 19, 2021) and I was given early-access to the disc for review. It should be noted that access was to the disc only and therefore I cannot comment on the quality of the rigid slipcase, art cards and essays/interview included in the booklet. The review is for the content and quality of the Blu-Ray. Raw is a cannibal film but I did look at it as a ’Vamp or Not?’ previously, in which I concluded that it definitely used familiar tropes and should be looked at within the vampire genre.

Garance Marillier as Justine

What proved interesting to me, having re-watched the film (and twice again with the two commentaries), along with the interviews and panels with Julia Ducournau, was when I reread my previous article and realised my stance had shifted. I stand by the conclusion, but the path to it is slightly different in places. Alexandra West, in her commentary, traces the film’s cinematic parentage to New French Extremity horrors Dans Ma Peau and Trouble Every Day, recognising the latter as a vampire film. She recognises that, like the vampire, the cannibal is often othered and sees the film, in part, a coming-of-age story. Ducournau herself sees it as becoming human, of developing a whole self and choosing a morality. I think, looking back on my article, I can say that I didn’t realise that Justine (Garance Marillier) was meant to be as young as she is in film (entering vet school at 16), that she is a prodigy. One thing I suggested was that she seduced her gay roommate (Rabah Nait Oufella) – on a re-watch I suspect that whilst, in parts of the film, she clearly experiences her blossoming sexuality the scene is not a seduction as such. Returning to Alexandra West, she suggests the sex, given his espoused sexuality, feels problematic (within his narrative). I think you can read a definite connection between the urge to consume and the urge for sex, and the reader can add the textual suggestion that on some unconscious level her urge controls his.

eating raw meat

The film print is wonderful and the, in places, almost grim, urban photography is counterpointed by some wonderful, subtle lighting effects. One particular scene springs to mind, where an unnatural red light subtly highlights marching students just before a particularly bloody hazing, underpinning this use of light where the lighting helps to set the scene with a notable feel of the uncanny. 

I’ve touched on the extras already but a full list reveals the following:

  • 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 & 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

finger food

The disc, as you can see, is jam-packed with extras. There are two deleted scenes that are interesting but not earth shattering; one, in a lecture, is greatly extended next to the final cut, and whilst really interesting would have stifled the pace if kept in its entirety and the film can feel languid in places already (deliberately, one feels, and juxtaposed against frenetic moments). With regards the two commentaries, the one with Julia Ducournau and Emma Westwood is worthwhile for the insights the director brings. Westwood is more a springboard for those insights, admitting that she had only seen the film once before the recording. The second is with Alexandra West and I have mentioned a couple of her insights earlier. She has a monograph exploring New French Extremity horrors, which she repeatedly reminds the listener about but, beyond the shameless self-promotion, she was able to help tie this film’s place within that movement and the commentary offers much.

Raw is a great film and this is a fantastic set for those who love the film and want a further insight into it. The score is for the set 8.5 out of 10.

EDIT 30/4/21: I have treated myself to the commercial release (partly as the early release disc was sent on loan and I really wanted the film in Blu-Ray format) and can report that the set as a whole is as class as the disc itself. The hard case is fairly large as the bound booklet, which contains an interview and essays, sits separate to the disc case. The three art cards are lovely. The set is recommended.  

The imdb page is here.

On Blu-Ray @ Amazon UK

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