Titane, writer/director Julia Ducournau follow up to her bold debut RAW, is a uniquely cinematic vision and one of the best of 2021.
For someone to label Titane as simply “body horror” would be to confine one of the most blisteringly confident visions to project on screens (theatrical or otherwise) in 2021. Writer/Director Julia Ducournau delivers on the promise of RAW with something altogether different but building on the themes of her debut feature film.
A fleeting moment of aggravation by Alexia’s (Agathe Rousselle) father leaves the child with a titanium plate in her head. More than a decade later Alexia is a part-time dancer at motorsport shows and a part-time serial killer. It’s her non-dancing ventures that put her on the run. The fleeing is not the most disconcerting part. The most disconcerting part for Alexia is that she has appeared to be impregnated by one of the cars she was dancing on. Transforming herself into Adrien the long-missing son of Vincent (Vincent Lindon), a Fire Station Captain. As Alexia takes on Adrien’s persona and deeper into the pregnancy she gets the more her body and self begin to pronounce frightening changes …
That is the barest of setups for what is instore for any unsuspecting audience member. The film is equal parts boldly horrific and emotionally resonant. The journey that Alexia goes on from serial killer to lost son to firefighter in training to Mary-like figure is one that cannot be encapsulated in a few sentences. Titane is a pure cinematic work of art that demands to be seen, heard, felt, and ultimately experienced.
Be sure this is not for the weak or faint at heart or those with judgmental dispositions. Titane begins with graphic depictions of a surgical procedure and goes from there. Alexia is an unremitting serial killer, and Titane has no qualms showing her murder her victims without much of an emotional shrug. There is a purpose for this all, but most will just look at it in moral judgment not seeing the socio-political underpinnings of the entire piece.
There is so much to Titane that needs to be meditated and dissected beyond my review or anyone’s review of this monumental film. It will take time and digestion to really figure out Titane. In the meantime, writer/director Julia Ducournau with her second film has become one of the most important voices in world cinema and Titane is one of the best of 2021.