After hearing about this fucked up horror movie Titane, a couple of weeks ago, I finally decided to check it out. At that point in time, I didn’t know it won Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. What I was expecting was a variation on Cronenberg’s cult classic Crash, something deviant and sexy. So, we have cars, lots of nudity, and sleek cinematography, what more to want? I was also hoping that this isn’t going to be another Climax, a movie I am yet to finish and understand. And I understood and loved Quentin Dupieux Rubber, a movie about a tire becoming self-conscious, just to be clear.
What Titane turned out to be is something completely else. Sure, there was a lot of nudity but that nudity was spiked with a haunting atmosphere. And there were cars here but they appeared only in the opening five minutes. Titane changed several genres within the first half an hour finally settling on the slow-burning family drama with strong body horror elements. So, if you’re looking for something sleek and sexy, better skip this one. This is a far more serious and twisted feature. It uses graphic imagery and bizarre scenes to bore into your mind and remains there. Remember, what is seen cannot be unseen. Plus, if any of your friends start talking high and mighty about this movie, just point them to Tetsuo: The Iron Man from 1989.
It’s been more than ten years since Alexia was in a car crash that left her with a titanium plate in her head. And a nasty scar on the right side of her head. Now, she’s working as an exotic dancer in an underground motor show. However, that’s not all she does. Alexia is also a serial killer. A serial killer who doesn’t think about stopping.
I think that the biggest question here is should you see Titane? Or is Titane the right movie for you? Well, if you’re looking for something completely different and have a decent tolerance for artistic expression, then you should check it out. If, however, you’re looking for something more traditional, you might find it pretentious and boring. You might be better off with some other French movies like Martyrs and Inside. Even Serbian Movie has more traditional and streamlined storytelling despite extremely graphic and fucked up content. And if you want to find out who’s a better lover, a regular car or a fire truck, then watch Titane. Although, I think you already know the answer to that question.
This is also one of those movies that are wide open for interpretation. Is this is a flashy exploitation movie? Or is it a pretentious arthouse film with an unusually big budget? The festival crowd loves it because it touches upon many current issues like gender, violence, society, patriarchy, and other “hip” stuff. However, after thinking about Titane I have to say that this is above all a movie about a dysfunctional family. Instead of using the BBC approach, Julia Ducournau chose graphic interaction to drive her point home. As you might have guessed Agathe Rousselle was phenomenal as Alexia as was Vincent Lindon as Vincent. I also just loved the soundtrack, although I wish there was at least one Fear Factory track. After you’ve seen the movie, you might want to come back and check the next section where I go into detail about it.
I can’t leave without saying what I really feel about this movie. This also means that SPOILERS FOLLOW. So, first of all, I think that if she wasn’t in a crash, Alexia would find some other way to exhibit her killer instinct. I think that the crash was just a justification for that type of behavior. This all smells like determinism to me, like she was on that path no matter what. Everything that follows apart from the pregnancy is just a technical consequence of her behavior. The extreme makeover is what you do if the police were after you. Along with lying about who you are and exploiting other vulnerable people. There’s a hint of misery loves company also here. And the attraction between fucked up people dealing with shitty cards the life has dealt them.
There’s also a nice arch of men treating Alexia and other women as just sexual toys, a despicable behavior to say the least. With Vincent finally breaking that cycle of abuse and showing her there’s another way. While the story is highly personal, this is a polarizing issue as we as a society at the same time condemn and condone this type of male behavior. All a consequence of the tribal system of values. Complete with Vincent using steroids to appear strong and young again, chasing that teen peak. If we add to that his failure to protect and raise his son, we got all the elements for this type of behavior. Not to mention his job and colleagues.
Finally, I have just one question about this movie. When the first car ejaculated, I thought that the seed would be gasoline and not motor oil? Although I kind of see the logic in motor oil and it has this nice black color. And the only reason I ask is that this is the only movie that asks that question.
Director: Julia Ducournau
Writer: Julia Ducournau, Jacques Akchoti, Simonetta Greggio
Cast: Agathe Rousselle, Vincent Lindon, Garance Marillier, Laïs Salameh, Mara Cisse, Marin Judas
Fun Facts: Received a 9-minute standing ovation after its Cannes premiere.