Review: Titane – Ducournau’s French Revival of Body Horror
Directors who emphasise the body horror or the Cronenbergian aspects of their films tend to isolate some people. Julia Ducournau’s Titane brings these aspects to the forefront, making it an instant cult film. Titane follows on from her debut feature Raw: a genius film about cannibalistic vets. Titane ups the body horror of Raw and envelopes some strong but confusing story arcs.
The film starts with the fresh-faced protagonist Alexia (Agathe Rousselle), who gets into a horrific car crash and then has a titanium plate implanted into her head. This inciting incident is then followed by a cut to later in life where she dances at car expos. A man at the show gets a bit too handsy and meets his comeuppance when she stabs him in the head with a chopstick. This then comes to the important plot point where Alexia procreates with a car.
Alexia goes on the run and deforms her own face with the goal of looking like a man. She then finds her way into a fire chiefs’ life through dubious means. At this point, the story goes awry into a weird father-son trope. This odd section of the film – yet again – has Alexia having intercourse with an automotive vehicle. Although the scenes are incredibly weird, they are still beautiful.
The film falls short on certain story points – having a disjointed middle section followed by some odd character decisions. Despite this, Titane is a film festival favourite – having won the Cannes top prize, the Palme d’Or. The film also sold out most of its showings at the Leeds International Film Festival. Titane strikes me as a film that won’t do well with a wider audience with its more outlandish ideas and visuals.
Indeed, Titane brings willing audiences a wealth of moments that will make them cringe. This is despite its interesting, poignant points about gender and off-the-cuff parental relationships. However, if there’s ever a film not to watch with your parents, it’s Titane.
Image Credit: Diaphana Distribution/Neon