This week is a little slow for movie releases which is expected in the build up to Summer Blockbuster season. So I decided to see what the rest of the world has been producing recently and boy have they been busy. To fill the movie watching void this week I saw Raw from France and The Handmaiden from Japan/Korea.
Let’s kick off with Chan-wook Park’s latest cinematic offering, the director of Oldboy and Stoker has taken on a great piece of British literature. The Handmaiden is an adaptation of the novel ‘Fingersmith’ which tells the story of a con-man and a young maid who attempt to cheat a rich countess out of her fortune. This simple plot does not stay simple for long as the sordid affairs of the countesses Uncle come into question. This is at its core a love story but if you’ve seen any of Park’s work, you must be aware of his cinematic style and if not prepare yourself for quite a show. The plots twists and turns making for a great, unexpected narrative but I did find my mind wandering after just the first act. The beauty of the cinematography combined with the gorgeous costumes and scenery couldn’t hold my attention. The performances were all really great as well but my attention span couldn’t hold on, the film’s climax is breathtaking but the 144-minute journey to get there is a long one. Ciaran-ometer 3/5
The second film I saw from around the world this week comes from France and tells one very different tale. Raw tells the story of a young girl facing the challenges of university, hazing rituals, sex, family, grades and uncontrollable cannibalistic urges, you know the usual teen stuff. This film is one of the reasons I love cinema, I had no idea what to expect going into this film and it was phenomenal. The women at the helm of Raw is Julia Ducournau who somehow blends two very different genres to create a terrifying absorbing piece of cinema. The soundtrack and a lot of the humour would not look out of place in a teen comedy, in-between all this Justine (Garance Marillier) our young protagonist is dealing with outbursts of cannibalism. On paper it shouldn’t work but Ducournau creates such a fantastic, well paced, original picture that goes straight into my top three films so far this year. The film is in places tough to stomach but if you can handle it, the narrative and performances make the mental scarring worth it. Ciaran-ometer 4/5
Most people get put off by subtitles but you should try some foreign cinema every now and again because you are limitting yourself and missing out on some of the best cinema produced today.