While many movie enthusiasts, including myself, anxiously wait for Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of “Dune” and Lana Wachowski’s fourth installment in “The Matrix” franchise, film buffs are wildly excited for French filmmaker, Julie Ducournau’s Palme D’or sophomore debut titled “Titane.”
I went into the theatre with no knowledge and little information about the plot, which only enriched my experience, so I feel that it would only be right to withhold a summary to give potential viewers the same experience.
Ducournau had already impressed me with her vampire debut “Raw,” a film about finding your purpose and what it means to become human, as well as displaying groundedness. There was a lot of violent imagery that only a few can pull off in the current state of horror media. In return, my love of her debut only grew my anticipation once hearing it won the top prize from the Cannes Film Festival. It is unheard of for a horror film to win this prestigious award.
Sure, many film festival fans will exaggerate the brutal violence and shocking story in “Titane”, but Ducournau finds beauty in the nightmare. While many will pass on comparison to films by David Cronenberg, and though I do agree, there is definitely a difference between the two filmmakers. Yes, the visuals feel very grandiose and nasty, but Julie finds something vulnerable here.
As the film progresses, it slowly dissolves from a body-horror film to an existential drama about identity, gender and how people perceive you. It’s Ducournau’s direction tied with incredible performances by Vincent Lindon and Agathe Rousselle that make this film, unlike anything I have seen throughout 2021.
“Titane” on its surface is a film festival horror movie that critics will hyperbolize to death but it is about subverting expectations. From the film’s promotional trailers, it looks like a sadistic and nihilistic nightmare and actually morphs into that. The hyperbolized festival reactions overshine what the movie actually is. It is a film using the art of the theatrical experience to its fullest, the way distributor “NEON” did with their 2019 film “Parasite.” It is about capturing the audience’s reactions and seeing others’ response to storytelling shifts.
Like I have stated before, the violence is brutal and at times hard to stomach. Many scenes had me cringing in my seat due to its heavy sound design and the gritty shots.
Nevertheless, if there are few films you must see by the end of 2021 it is “Titane.” All the praise from critics and film festival junkies is worth it but also diminishes the movie’s overall beauty. It is a disturbing, haunting yet beautiful film that has scenes I cannot wait to revisit time and time again. Actors Agathe Rousselle and Vincent Lindon bring phenomenal performances here, allowing Rousselle to reach heights I have not seen many actors go for in 2021. If you can see “Titane” in theaters please do, but if not, check it out when it hits VOD on Oct. 19.