Ellen Lima Wassu
October 31, 2023

For her award-winning debut feature film, Ducournau elected to use meat as a gateway into the rawness of different layers — both avoided and naturalised — of human behaviour. After all, through what perspectives do we read violence? What can cannibalism, as a practice or metaphor, tell us about the established notion of humanity we are all familiar with? And, moreover, how can feminine desire, the body and rites of passage point towards places that evoke horror?

Justine is a young woman from a strictly vegetarian family. On arriving at veterinary school, she is made to eat raw meat during a hazing ritual. From that moment on she is subject to insatiable carnivorous cravings, intrinsically related to and, in the end, revealing the tensions between a series of violent incidents, be it of rites of passage, social and sexual games, or in the complexity of family relationships.

These and other dichotomous issues that underpin the Western social imagination are presented throughout the narrative. They appear as a questioning of desire versus the mastery and control of desire, the loss of innocence versus the taking on of a predatory attitude, the animal versus the human. Thanks to the way the director confronts us with these questions, we cannot avoid being provoked into inverting our perspectives regarding the use of horror and violence. Ducournau also emphasises female sexual autonomy as a brutal, deadly fact, a perfect metaphor for the fear we know is embedded in the patriarchal thinking of our time, and subverting the normative gender logic regarding power and domination.

In the director’s aesthetic, all bodies are clues. It is through Justine’s agonising rash that new layers are released from the skin of the body to the skin of society — and thus we see the nuances of the aggressive normalisation of imposed social skins, the skins of our bodies.

These dichotomies multiply and explode visually when Raw focusses on the accepted, naturalised violence against animal species in their hierarchical relationship with the human species. The scenes showing the treatment meted out to animals at the university bring us closer to and make explicit this flesh that is dominated, subdued, violated and lacerated. Thus they reveal its material fragility and mobilise our senses of avoidance and tolerance regarding the violations and mutilations employed against certain bodies.

Cannibalism — the practice of certain species eating beings of the same species — and anthropophagy — the act of eating human flesh in a ritual context — have long been erroneously associated in Western thinking, and are often wrongly described. In the context of Raw, Ducournau chooses not to address these ideas, but in the predatory behaviour of Justine she makes explicit an approach questioning the boundaries created to separate humans and non-humans.

Ritualistic perspectives, meanwhile, are put to one side to the extent that we realise that the young woman’s insatiable desires were generated through practices of her social group, which is the same group that condemns them. In so doing, they turn the means of dealing with insatiable desires into an individual problem, thus revealing the contradictions of social logic. It is the group’s fabricated codes that determine the “limits” between what is socially acceptable and what is considered the perfect plot for a horror film.

Ellen Lima Wassu

Ellen Lima Wassu é poeta, ativista e investigadora indígena. É mestra em Artes e doutoranda em Modernidades Comparadas: Literaturas, Artes e Culturas na Universidade do Minho. Publicou, em 2021, Ixé ygara voltando pra ’y’kûa, livro de poesias escrito em língua portuguesa e tupi antigo, e tem textos publicados em diversas revistas literárias e antologias. Atua nas áreas de arte, cultura e literatura e sua prática relaciona poesia, performance, estudos contracoloniais e escritas ensaísticas.

Batalha Centro de Cinema

Praça da Batalha, 47
4000-101 Porto


A enviar...

O formulário contém erros, verifique os valores.

The form was submitted.

O seu contacto já está inscrito! Se quiser editar os seus dados, veja o email que lhe enviámos.

FS Raw: Ellen Lima WassuFS Raw: Ellen Lima WassuFS Raw: Ellen Lima WassuFS Raw: Ellen Lima Wassu

©2023 Batalha Centro de Cinema. Design de website por Macedo Cannatà e programação por Bondhabits

batalhacentrodecinema.pt desenvolvido por Bondhabits. Agência de marketing digital e desenvolvimento de websites e desenvolvimento de apps mobile