Can we talk about that scene? Things getting real in Raw
'Can we talk about that scene?' is a periodic instalment where memorable scenes are discussed. Given the nature of these pieces, we will be entering major spoiler territory and the film(s) in question will be stated upfront. For additional entries, please click here.
SPOILER ALERT for Raw (2016).
Although Raw has its fair share of shock-value in its 99 minute runtime, it's not overly grotesque from frame to frame. In fact, Julia Ducournau takes more of a tempered approach in slowly revealing how far the film is willing to push things. The tone is dark and eerily empty right from the start, but things don't really escalate until this one beautiful scene. And with this one scene, the film truly kicks off. The scene in question is the moment Justine makes the clearly visceral decision to consume her sister's severed finger. To comment on the scene itself, Garance Marillier gives a physically impressive performance that really conveys the thirst and (for lack of a better word) raw conviction of her character's cannibalistic tendencies. The soundtrack's almost techno-like beats, capped off with Alexia's (the sister) reaction to the horrors that just transpired, help set the stage with what one can only describe as pure perfection.
Most people walking into Raw should already have a sense of what's to come, and even though having an underscoring level of intensity build up is not particularly noteworthy, the delivery of this finger munching scene is resoundingly special. I was unfortunately not present during the TIFF 2016 Midnight Madness screening of Raw, but wouldn't be surprised if the fainting episodes happened during this moment. It's arguably not the most gruesome scene in the film, but it hits you hard because it presses on a lot of emotional buttons. In the span of about 60-90 seconds; I felt a wave of shock, horror and empathy, all wrapped in a strange haze of excitement. It's a bit messed up, but I suppose that's kind of the point, no? After viewing Justine passionately chew through her sister's finger, much like the characters in the film, you know there's no going back. And if you're the right audience for the film, your response will be 'strap me in, please'.
Sure, the film descends even further into this dark and morbid rabbit hole created so beautifully by Ducournau et al., but none of the other scenes carry as much weight as this one. Things get real in Raw, and it's all thanks to this scene.