Thursday, 13 October 2016

LFF 2016 REVIEW - RAW (JULIA DUCOURNAU)


Bursting onto the cinema scene like a severed artery in full flow, Julia Ducournau assaults both her audience and her predecessors in the New French Extremity. Raw is like a belated bookend and corrective to that tiresome phase of filmmaking, an endlessly surprising and thrilling film that toys with our perceptions in unveiling one new slant on genre tropes after another. It's a vigorous assertion of a shocking new artistic vision, just as its protagonist forges a radical path of her own upon attending her first year at veterinary school. From different angles a critique of arbitrary family ties and a curt acceptance of (literal) blood ties, a sneering dismissal of a culture that exalts values of masculinity and heteronormativity, and a bold depiction of a particularly rapid, extreme coming-of-age process, Raw is thematically rich, but primarily it is a stylistic masterclass. Ducournau has total command of her developing mise-en-scene, devising methods of intensification, deflection, diversion and outright mockery (of her characters and of her audience) that embolden the film, give its presentation of almost every fluidic expulsion conceivable an added edge of provocative verve. It's gleefully nasty, the brilliant strain of black comedy arising from the essential interlacing of vivid, aptly raw body horror and the tender character drama that cultivates around it. Thus Raw is not simply exemplary filmmaking for a gory horror movie, it's exemplary filmmaking for any movie.