When you have to ask yourself, “Did I finish the movie or did the movie finish me?” you know shit is heavy.
It’s being called “the most shocking film of 2021,” but if you ask me, it may be the most shocking of the last decade. Don’t worry…finger-waggers are going to totally dismiss this movie and label it as body-horror porn, and they’re not wrong, but with that narrow mindset, they’re also not right.
Many opinions have spawned from French writer/director Julia Ducournau’s sophomore Titane since winning the prestigious Palme D’or at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, courtesy of a prize jury helmed by Spike Lee.
It’s been five years since Ducournau’s debut feature Raw made audience members at the Toronto International Film Festival allegedly pass out and puke. As one who was equally disturbed by Raw, Titane makes Raw look like child’s play. Titane, followed suit with reported walkouts from audience members at the Cannes Film Festival, and a reported faint at its TIFF premiere. Iconic.
After a car accident in her youth, Alexia (a phenomenal Agathe Rousselle in her feature debut) is given a permanent titanium plate in her skull and a fetish for metal and machines. Make sense? I didn’t think so either.
For the squeamish, I don’t recommend this movie, nor would I ever suggest it to people like my parents. There are countless scenes that had my hands covering my eyes. Sadistic nipple-ripping, face-stabbing, sex with a car (yes, you read that right), and the most graphic body-horror I’ve seen in cinema are just a few examples. The pounding music with tracks that include “Car Fuck”, “Beach Puke”, and “Fan in Car Kill” didn’t help ease my stomach either. I remain unwell.
You’re probably wondering at this point why see this movie then? Ducournau has taken cinema and turned it upside down potentially creating the future of film. It’s impossible to predict what happens next from scene to scene, and the severely uneasy chuckles come and go, but for whatever reason, you yearn to know more and more as the film plays.
Another reason to see it is for the incredible, mind-bending acting. Newcomer Agathe Rousselle is literally not of this world, and Vincent Lindon is impossible to look away from in every scene he’s in. I have no words except to the Academy…I’m watching you come Oscar season for this movie. Don’t fail me.
It remains unclear to me what the message of Titane might be, or what direction this movie was gearing toward, but the overall feeling of “what the fuck did I just watch” is something I haven’t experienced in a long time to this degree. However, I have yet to see Valdimar Jóhannsson’s Lamb, so y’all hold on to your butts.
AP News summarizes it best for me: “Part of the reason why it’s so hard to explain what ‘Titane’ is about is because it is continually changing its shape. Even the official synopsis takes a pass and simply gives a dictionary definition for the title. Ducournau’s ‘Titane’ has shades of Lynchian-sensuality and Cronenbergian-madness, but it’s also all her own. It’s even quite funny at times.”
Tread carefully seeing this one, don’t eat beforehand, and do NOT recommend it to your average movie-goer. Just don’t. Good luck.