As the centerpiece of the 74th Festival de Cannes schedule, one would expect Julia Ducournau’s Titane to be nothing less than impactful. Titane is true body horror. It is an unconventional, insane, and oddly empowering, impactful thrill ride.
At first Alexia’s (Agatha Rousselle) murder spree seems like that of a vigilante as she kills off a man who can’t take “no” for an answer. However, her bloodlust escalates to newfound proportions when she acts upon her murderous urges without being provoked. Having bitten off more than she can chew, she goes on the run. She then steals the identity of a child that has been missing for over ten years. What follows is her temporarily seeking refuge with a mentally and physically troubled firefighter named Vincent (Vincent Lindon).
Ducournau’s feature often gives into sensory overload. The film feels as though its main purpose is to overwhelm the viewer, through a well-balanced hodgepodge of contradictory sentiments. It is both emotional and disconnected. It is heartwarming and comical while also being deranged and depraved. The two main characters of this film bounce off each other well, both Rousselle and Lindon playing into each other’s character’s motivations with tangible chemistry.
To call Ducournau a genius is an overstatement, for now, but to call her innovative is underselling it. There is much to say about her style and execution that would probably lead to many future film-centric lectures. What can be stated is that through Titane, there is a clear understanding of how multifaceted films and the people they give life to can be.
When stripped back of its nonchalant gore, it is truly a tame story. Titane explores the found family trope, examining the process of grief and acceptance. We never fully understand most of the people we meet in this story, but we don’t really need to. It is not about coming eye-to-eye with a villain behind a mask. Ducournau’s feature seems to beg you to simply accept the journey for what it is and make of it what you want it to be. There is no grand scheme other than to entertain. It is not provocative cinema. It is a multi-layered piece about understanding and human evolution.
To put it lightly, the film often feels like a descent into hell. It is a maddening consumption of the rawest form of primal instinct. While there are many questions left unanswered as the credits roll, in the end, the film presents a story about someone that grows out of the coldest depths of their being into perhaps someone that might be worth saving. Might. – Josie Meléndez
Titane’s release date has yet to be announced
The film stars Agatha Rousselle and Vincent Lindon.