Raw On release from 7th April
French-Belgian director Julia Ducournau’s remarkably poised debut might have proved a bloody mess. When Justine (below) arrives at a provincial university—alma mater of her parents, who are softly spoken vegetarians—she undergoes brutal hazing rituals. The trauma unleashes a horrifying reaction, yet Ducournau’s cool style elevates gory genre to a surprisingly tender exploration of female anxiety about the body and relationships. Raw (in French Grave) may have attracted prizes for its writer/director at Cannes but it’s the lead performance by Garance Marillier that is memorably incisive.
Clash On release from 21st April
Mohamed Diab’s Cairo drama is confined to the interior of an armoured truck during violent demonstrations in 2013. Bundled inside by police are individuals across the political spectrum, from the Muslim Brotherhood to army supporters. Deftly shot (with a vivid evocation of the turmoil on the streets) the arguments reveal the ironies and cruelties of the political divisions. Unusually for such a high-concept piece, Clash maintains tension until the final frame.
A Quiet Passion On release from 7th April
Amherst, Massachusetts in the 1850s. The poet Emily Dickinson (Cynthia Nixon) is enclosed with her family: stern father, ailing mother, lawyer brother and generous sister (Jennifer Ehle, radiating intelligence). Director Terence Davies’s trademarks are on show—gliding camera and careful composition (often favouring Dickinson’s beloved gardens), extended use of music and mischievously sharp dialogue. If the film becomes heavy on death and suffering, it becomes bearable for Nixon’s extraordinary immersion in the character.