Titane: Review

Titane: Review

“Titane” is the new film by Julia Ducournau, and it’s one of the French films which is most talked about abroad this year since it won the very prestigious “Palme d’Or” at the Cannes Film Festival.  Following this victory, the film has been chosen (versus “The Event” by Audrey Diwan and “Bac Nord” by Cédric Jimenez) by the CNC (National Film and Moving Image Centre) to represent France for the 94th Academy Awards ceremony that will take place in March 2022. 

Julia Ducournau had already made a name for herself in 2016 with “Raw” which at the time was a real shock in the very uninnovative French film landscape of recent years. With “Raw” and “Titane”, Julia Ducournau, assisted for example by directors such as Pascal Laugier “Ghostland” (2018) or Coralie Fargeat “Revenge” (2018), allows to confirm the craze for genre cinema in France, which appeared in the early 2000s with “Le Pacte des loups” by Christophe Gans. 

These directors also prove to us that the French genre cinema exports well abroad.  Indeed, “Titane” is the fourth best opening of all time for a Palme d’Or in North America. “Severely injured in a car accident, Alexia (played by Agathe Rousselle), a dancer in her thirties, is saved by having a titanium implant placed in her skull. Suffering from a post-traumatic syndrome, she is overcome by murderous impulses.

At the same time, Vincent (Vincent Lindon), a firefighter, finds his son who has been missing for 10 years after being questioned by customs inspectors at an airport.” Through this rather intriguing synopsis, the various actors deliver an incredible performance. 

Considering the complexity and strangeness of the writing of Alexia and Vincent’s characters, the actors in “Titane” are a major key to the film’s success.  One struggles with a seemingly inevitable transformation that could expose her, and the other seems stuck in a hazy past. 

Agathe Rousselle and Vincent Lindon give us exceptional performances. Not to mention the excellent Garance Marillier, lead actress in “Raw” (2016), who is a regular in Julia Ducournau’s films as she also appeared in her short film “Junior” (2011).  The inspirations of “Titane” are clear, we find mainly “Crash” by David Cronenberg and “Christine” by John Carpenter.  The film doesn’t hesitate to go into the trash, the very disturbing and the visually incorrect, kneading the flesh as Cronenberg and playing with mechanical eroticism. 

This choice of excess was strongly criticized by the public but also by the press, many saw it as free violence that brings nothing to the development of the characters or the purpose of the film, an “avoidable” violence.  During the screening in Cannes, several people left the movie theater, they couldn’t handle the violence of the images. These exits have fueled a certain mystery around the film as for “Irreversible” (2002) by Gaspar Noé (which is now a cult film).

“Titane” is therefore not a film for all audiences, it may even displease some fans of more “classic” horror. In any case, you will have to hang on to follow the film and it will not necessarily be a good time to spend.  The film is a UFO, it’s, as Pascal Laugier qualifies the genre films in France “a small miracle”. It also allows to approach some society’s subjects in a very interesting way such as the gender identity for example. 

But whether during the viewing or maybe some time after, “Titane” is an interesting film, which will probably still be talked about in a few years. It is also the new reference film for Julia Ducournau, who is a talented director to follow in the coming years.

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