Raf is a coming-of-age story with definitive art-house qualities. Its protagonist Raf (Grace Glowicki) is clearly intelligent and creative, a woman in her mid-twenties who is trapped by her lack of confidence and severe inability to be assertive. Until she meets Tal (Jesse Stanley), the sister Raf always wished she had.
A slow, simple film, Raf takes an atypical approach to the genre: it abides by some norms, but entirely ignores others.
Early on, a symbolic shot sadly portrays how lonely she feels, the first of many subtly creative visual moments silently offering a glimpse into Raf’s mind. Eating dinner with her large family around her, the conversations are near-muted and indecipherable as it becomes clear that family offers her no relief. If anything, she is completely indifferent toward them.
Raf’s description of her life, via narration, at the start of the film seem to say that she is content with a mediocre existence and no ambition to move forward. She is content to daydream about rave clubs, dancing in the safety of privacy.
Impressively, we feel a sense of consistent reality, as if we have randomly bumped into Raf on the street, much like Tal accidently does. The deliberately paced construction of their relationship revolves around their contrasting personalities, as Tal is a different person in nearly every way.
The confident Tal changes Raf’s life for the better, helping her to be assertive in life, among other positive changes. But could she have eventually formed these strong changes alone? This is one of the many questions this realistic and relatable films raises. Audiences will walk away from Raf reflecting on their own relationships and how healthy they may be.