Titane is an absolutely insane, adrenaline-inducing body horror with searing emotional depth. Julia Ducournau’ sophomore piece took the festival season by storm, even bagging the coveted Cannes Festival Palme d’Or, and recently caused uproar among cinephiles when it failed to be short-listed for International Feature for the Oscars. However, rest-assured Titane was not made to win Oscars, nor to be palatable in any shape or form. From the opening shots, as Alexia (Agathe Rouselle) writhes provocatively on the hood of a garish car, we are dragged into uncomfortability and forced to sit there and experience it all. And it is wonderful!
Written by Tresca Mallon
Alexia is a troubled and perplexing individual played with visceral purpose by Rouselle. Her impulsiveness and unfathomable actions in the first act are as thrilling as they are disturbing - I don’t think I will ever look at a hair pin the same way again. Through a series of mind-boggling events Alexia ends up posing as the son of grieving Vincent (Vincent Lindon) who has been missing for ten years.
After the fast-paced and bloody action of the first act, Titane switches gears (pardon the pun) to a more emotionally-charged and slower sequence of events. A welcome reprieve that slowly evolves into a captivating study of an unusual father/son relationship.
The fraught yet tender relationship that is formed between Alexia and Vincent is the core of the film. As we watch Alexia forcibly transform her body to fit the mould of the long lost son and hide her true identity, Vincent contorts himself to fit the masculine image of his public life. Lindon gives a blindingly heart-wrenching performance as a father twisted by grief, loneliness and loss. The chemistry between Rouselle and Lindon and the genius blurring of gender, sexuality and familial bonds create a tension that is all at once alluring and repulsive. Titane is a film about grief, gender, sexuality and trauma and yes it’s also about a woman getting impregnated by a car. Expertly guided by the intentional hand of Julia Ducournau, Titane is an assault on the senses which leaves an indelible mark. An incredible cinematic experience that simply cannot be missed.