Last year I was on a film festival jury that wound up, after several hours of finicky deliberation, giving our top prize to Julia Ducournau’s coming-of-cannibalistic-age nightmare Raw (Universal, 18). It was, to all of us, an unexpected vote of consensus for a film that seduces through repulsion. “What have we approved?” a fellow juror asked me with a grin as we delivered our verdict. Ducournau’s debut lands on screen like a live, throbbing heart plucked from its housing chest, wrapped in rose-coloured satin instead of butcher’s paper.
It doesn’t take long for a grisly grindhouse soul to emerge from its gleaming exterior. As the rituals of campus hazing take their dizzying toll on her, vegetarian veterinary student Justine (Garance Marillier) finds within herself a grislier kind of carnal urge than that usually felt by college kids. As a witty metaphor for the subversive powers of female sexuality, Raw bunks in the same sorority as Carrie and Ginger Snaps, though its most sense-searing excesses are very much its own. Ducournau sees as much body-horror potential here in a botched bikini wax as in a bout of literal knuckle-gnawing. A film in complete sympathy with its heroine’s extreme bodily desires, it’s as grossly red and as quiveringly tender as the best rare steak.
Queasy - Colour - Sense - Ending - Studiocanal
You won’t find any such queasy, gutsy colour in The Sense of an Ending (Studiocanal, 15). Ritesh Batra and Nick Payne’s adaptation of Julian Barnes’s Booker winner is consistently, comfortingly beige in both visual palette and emotional tenor, rarely raising its voice or pulse as its cardigan-sporting protagonist (Jim Broadbent) reflects stoically on a lifetime of stalled, sabotaged or misinterpreted relationships. It’s tasteful, considered stuff, its many fine actors playing as if in a solemn string ensemble, though the novel’s subtle human stakes turn a bit watery.
The drama of Clash...
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