Sometimes a film develops a slow notoriety. Almost seeming to seep into the consciousness of movie fans as word spreads. Julia Ducournau's Raw is one such film, initially receiving a bare bones Blu-ray release as a HMV exclusive in the UK. Thanks to Raw's continued cult appeal we can soon expect a new expanded release from Second Sight, boasting a healthy roster of bonus features, a booklet of essays, art cards and new exclusive artwork.
The film itself is a thing to behold. We are introduced to Justine (Garance Marillier) as she travels to vet school with her parents (Joana Preiss and Laurent Lucas). It's a family affair, as her parents used to attend, and her sister Alexia (Ella Rumpf) is already there in the year above. Justine is academically gifted, she's only 16, and her youth stands out against the other students. They are all green gilled and wet behind the ears, but her especially so. Justine, the girl wonder, is flung into an extreme hazing via the elder students, her sister included. Paint, blood, humiliation, and new experiences are at every corner. Including Justine's first taste of meat; a small piece of raw rabbit kidney.
This first experience awakens something in Justine and she and her sister rekindle their relationship, while exploring their mutual interest in new flavours, with violent and bloody results.
Raw is essentially a coming-of-age story. Examining the way sibling relationships develop and form new connections when they are isolated from their parents. It also acts wonderfully as an allegory for addiction, sex being the obvious counterpart here. But audiences can seek their own representation of self-destruction in Justine. The sisters find humour in this destruction, laughing off unbreakable damage to themselves, along with the unintentional damage of others who get too close to them.
Marillier and Rumpf cultivate a realistic sibling relationship, fraught with resentment but underpinned by a connection that no-one can compete with. Their performances show Justine gradually becoming more and more influenced by Alexia. Starting as an innocent naïve child, and eventually leading them to take steps they can't undo. Ducournau's direction is sparse and pulled far back, allowing each scene to play out in real time whilst claustrophobically pulling us in to close-up for the most gruesome moments. The intensity matches the mood of the characters, and our disgust is equally matched by their frenzy.
Second Sight's new bonus features offer a wonderful insight to the film. Giving us interviews with director Julia Ducournau, producer Jean Des Forets, and lead actress Garance Marillier. They discuss their relationships and the development of the film, providing some justification for how they managed to create such powerful performances in a debut film. A video essay from Australian film critic Alexandra Heller-Nicholas gives further background on the symbolism and subtext buried in the film; it is absolutely worth watching. There are also commentaries from cast and crew, and film critic Alexandra West if you want something to really sink your teeth into.
The features themselves could do with a little more work to make them accessible however, as often the interviews are burdened by background music, making accented English hard to understand, especially without subtitles. The video essay, though informative, is incredibly dry, and more production on that to make it more easily digested wouldn't have gone amiss. The content itself can't be faulted, but the delivery may be hard to swallow.
This release of Raw is another great package from Second Sight, worthy of a place on your shelf, or your plate, whichever you fancy.
Raw is released on Special Limited Edition Blu-ray from Second Sight on April 26th
- 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
- New optional English subtitles for the hearing impaired
Limited Edition Contents
- Rigid slipcase
- Perfect-bound booklet with new essays by Hannah Woodhead and Emma Westwood plus interview with Julia Ducournau by Lou Thomas
- 3 collectors' art cards
- 4th art card exclusive to Second Sight store customers