Review: Titane. Is Julia Ducournau the queen of horror?

Agathe Rousselle in Titane

Titane won director Julia Ducournau the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2021. When a woman wins a major award like that, I feel obligated to watch her film. This film is a demented horror movie with several possible messages that were thematically muddy to me.

Titane, from France, was possibly about women not having autonomy over their own bodies. Or maybe it was about how both psychopaths and mentally ill firefighters need love. On the other hand, it might be an allegory about how humans and machines are merging into titanium humanoids. (I’m sitting here typing this with two titanium knees under my computer.)

Or maybe it was about all of the above. Whatever it was she meant to say, she managed to drag me along with her through this strange and surreal tale.

Agathe Rousselle in Titane

Agathe Rousselle, who was outstanding, played Alexia/Adrien. As a child she had a titanium plate put in her head as a result of a car accident. As an adult she displayed the scar from that metal implant as she worked as a dancer at car shows. She had a “thing” for cars after her accident. Early in the movie, she has sex with a Cadillac and becomes pregnant.

Alexia/Adrien had very few lines and spent what felt like half of the film naked. Pure grit on the part of Agathe Rousselle made it work.

Alexia murders quite a few people in the first half of the film. Often with a long hair pin, but sometimes with fire. The cops were after her so she decided to run. She saw photos of a boy who had been missing for 10 years with computer generated images of what he might look like now. She thought she could pass for him. She cut her hair, broke her own nose on a bathroom sink, bound up her breasts, and reported to the police as the missing Adrien.

Vincent Lindon in Titane

Vincent (Vincent Lindon), an aging fire chief who used steroids to attempt to stay strong, came to the police station and claimed Alexia/Adrien as his son. He refused a DNA test. Desperately lonely, Vincent promised to take care of his son, no matter who he was. It was the first time Alexia/Adrien had been well taken care of by anyone. A strange bond formed between them.

Meanwhile Alexia was growing more and more pregnant with what looked like a titanium bowling ball pushing through tears in her skin. Her nipples and uterus leaked viscous, dark, motor oil. What would finally be born out of her was a puzzle until the very end. I wouldn’t have been a bit surprised if it had been a tiny titanium Cadillac.

The sexiness of the film was creepy, the horror was deranged. The final scenes had something to do with love or insanity – or both. Julia Ducournau does horror with verve and style, I give her that. The look of the film, the music, and the two excellent lead performances contributed to the tense momentum of this award winning film.

You can see Titane as part of your subscription at Hulu. The film’s Twitter feed is in English.

2 thoughts on “Review: Titane. Is Julia Ducournau the queen of horror?”

  1. Starting a list of movies “OldAin’tDead’ recommends but don’t know if I can watch right now! Excellent review

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