VOD film review: Titane
Bianca Garner | On 12, Feb 2022
Director: Julia Ducournau
Cast: Agathe Rousselle, Vincent Lindon, Garance Marillier
Julia Ducournau exploded onto the scene with her directorial debut, Raw, in 2016. At the time, the world wasn’t quite prepared for such a wild and shocking film. Now, Ducournau is back with something even more shocking and controversial, and this time she’s taking things to a whole new level. If you can stomach Titane’s body horror and graphic depictions of violence, then you’ll discover that the film is a family drama about the power of reconnection and acceptance.
Titane follows the character of Alexia (Agathe Rousselle), who was involved in a car accident as a child and had a titanium plate inserted into her skull to hold it together. As a child, we can already tell that she’s not exactly normal. She sits in the back of her father’s car making engine noises and, when she comes out of hospital, she immediately embraces the machine as if it were her best friend. As an adult, Alexia’s life has gone down a very dark path. She now makes her living by dancing erratically at car shows. Dancing on the hood of a car is when she seems most alive – for the majority of the time she simply exists in the world like a zombie. Alexia seems to attract trouble to her, and has to dispose of an unwanted admirer who follows her to her car and demands a kiss. She doesn’t even seem to hesitate before jamming her hair accessory (a chopstick) into his ear.
We’re only 10 minutes in and things just get weirder from there. Alexis decides to go clean herself up back inside the building where the car show was being held, only to be drawn to the sounds coming from the Cadillac that she’d previously danced upon. Inside the car, something sexual occurs and this very odd encounter leads to Alexis becoming pregnant. It’s no ordinary pregnancy, with black motor oil leaking out of her breasts and her vagina. Her murder spree soon catches up with her, and Alexis must go on the run. In an attempt to hide away from the authorities, she decides to disguise herself as a missing boy called Adrien. She gets into the situation far too deeply, when Adrien is “reunited” with his father, Vincent (Vincent Lindon), who is a fire chief and takes his “son” to live with him at the fire station. The longer she stays there, the harder it becomes to keep everything a secret.
Titane is a hard film to recommend to people. On the one hand, it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before, something so wild and eccentric that it must be experienced first-hand. The performances from the film’s central leads (Rousselle and Lindon) are fantastic with both actors managing to encapsulate the multiple layers of their characters. Alexis on the surface seems cold and detached, a murderer who lies and manipulates to get by in life. But she’s the result of her distant relationship from her father, and all she’s truly after is some form of unconditional love. Vincent is a father who has never gotten over the loss of his son. He’s also living his own double life, but has a more sensitive side where all he wants to do is take care of his son.
The film’s unrelenting violence and graphic depiction of nudity is something that will automatically put off viewers. Body horror is certainly not for everyone, but if you can sit through the film’s more disturbing moments then it’ll be worth experiencing the horror. You’ll either love it or loathe it, but Titane is certainly a film that stays with you long after the credits have rolled – and you’ll never be able to look at motor oil in the same way again.