Film Review: Titane | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Saturday, April 13th, 2024  


Studio: Neon
Director: Julia Ducournau

Oct 05, 2021 Web Exclusive
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Julia Ducournau’s much-anticipated second film, Titane, was the winner of the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. The film is an ultra-disturbing and deeply harrowing look at the power of loneliness.

Titane opens with a striking sequence in which a young child named Alexia (Agathe Rousselle) and her father get into a car crash. She is forced to get a surgery involving the implant of a titanium plate in her skull. From there, the film jumps to Alexia in her adult life with the childhood scar on the side of her head. She works as an erotic dancer performing on top of cars. She is also a serial killer, using a sharpened hairpin to attack anyone she interacts with, or who does her wrong.

When one of her murder attempts goes wrong, Alexia is on the run from the police. At a desperate moment, she disfigures herself in order to pass herself off as a missing boy in order to get by the authorities unnoticed. She moves in with the missing child’s fire-fighter father Vincent (Vincent Lindon). At the risk of revealing any spoilers, many wild and intense things follow, to say the least.

From the opening scene, Ducournau stays wholly committed to subverting viewer expectations. This is usually done with the aid of horrifying moments or shocking plot twists. For the most part, her tactics work. It is impossible to predict where exactly the story is going to go next. Alexia’s journey and character are in constant flux, and the film’s tone and energy changes with her shifts, which makes the film even more entertaining.

Titane is also a prime example of sensory overload in all of the right ways. The film doesn’t utilize its intense body horror and imagery just for show. Instead, these things speak on a variety of themes. Titane is visually centered around the idea of gender fluidity, as Alexia is physically and mentally forced to switch between being her female self and portraying the physicality and energy of a young male. Her transformation process makes for some of the film’s most harrowing sequences, especially because of how the film showcases Alexia’s mental and physical toll as she works through her steps.

The most powerful and unexpected aspects of Titane arise when the film settles into its central story. This happens in the second half when Ducournau focuses on the relationship between Alexia and Vincent. Beneath all of the film’s madness, all of the astounding visual scenarios and unbelievable plot points, Titane is about loneliness and grief. No single character in the film feels like they belong in the world, all of them ravaged by severe mental tolls that often manifest themselves physically. The film revels in the connection that the characters make, leaning on each other not necessarily for support, but for any sort of connection. The opening sequences may try to suggest otherwise, but Titane is a film with a genuine heart, highlighting themes that everyone is forced to confront in ways that have never been explored before.

None of Titane’s wild vision could have been realized without the performances by the film’s main duo. In her feature film debut, Rousselle absolutely steals the show with her intricate, nuanced and intense performance. She is tasked with playing two very different characters who are housed inside the same body. Her natural and convincing screen presence helps her overcome this challenge. Additionally, Lindon’s supporting performance is absolutely incredible. He keeps the film grounded and showcases the idea that everyone has their own trauma. Their chemistry, even with minimal dialogue, ties the film together neatly, effectively communicating all of the film’s intentions. (

Author rating: 7/10

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