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MOVIES: Titane - Review

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How do you even begin to review an unreviewable, one-of-a-kind film Julia Ducournau’s Titane? A movie that – put it bluntly, is not for the faint of heart – a full on body horror of David Cronenberg propotions, it pushes filmmaking to a whole new level entirely. No other film has made me quite react to it in the same way to Titane, and I am very, very glad that I went into it on an empty stomach – because this is one film that you don’t want to eat popcorn in, especially those rough first twenty minutes that are absolutely worth sitting through to watch the rest of the movie, in which are a trip on a next level involving several brutal murders and a woman having sex with a literal car. It’s about as standard as things get for a French movie.

Much of the film is about the newfound bond between Vincent Lindon’s character, a firefighter, who shares the same first name as the actor, and Agatha Rousselle’s Alexia, who escapes the aftermath of the murders by posing as Vincent’s lost son, taking her under his wings not knowing that she is in fact, a woman – and a pregnant woman on the verge of giving birth. It’s a series of a strong farce that really pick away at your skin – every essence of Titane is designed to keep you on edge. I went in knowing absolutely nothing about the film other than it was meant to be insane, and it was from the director of the excellent Raw – a modern French horror classic of epic proportions. Titane exceeded all of them – it’s one of my favourites of the year, a real blast from start to finish that ramps up the levels of horror at every turn – whilst providing a deeply human story about body transformation and acceptance at its core, for all its insanity, this is a deeply inclusive effort that has to be fully seen to be believed – it’s transformative viewing in all the best ways possible.

It’s easy to compare a movie to David Cronenberg these days but Titane feels like the natural heir – and Julia Ducournau should be the ultimate answer to the question “who’s your favourite modern horror director with two features?”, arriving in the same era as Jordan Peele, Robert Eggers, Jennifer Kent and Ari Aster but surpassing them all. All directors are pushing boundaries within the genre and are very good at what they do – but none have delivered anything quite as full on intense as Julia Ducournau’s two features, and Titane is insane enough that it has caused plenty of different reactions from those who have seen it – it’s one where even being ready for what it has in store won’t prepare you. Everything across the board from the sound design to the cinematography is top-notch and it all adds to the viewing experience.

Both Agathe Rousselle and Vincent Lindon put in among the best performances of 2021 – their dynamic is so good, and what would be seen as weird ends up feeling entirely natural. It’s just such a good film, such a masterful feat of engineering that finds a way to set you on fire while watching it – you start out with your eyes covered, this is true hiding behind the sofa viewing of the best kind, but its fusion into a study of gender fluidity breaks new ground and is absolutely essential viewing for its positive depiction of that. For all its wild elements at its heart Titane is deeply human – and it’s all the better for it.

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