TIFF ’21: ‘Titane’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

Julia Ducournau has done it again. Titane is such a bold entry in her filmography and it has left me speechless. The opening of this film sets the tone for familial relationships. The father/daughter relationship between young Alexia and her father was strained from the very beginning. An argument with her father in the car, eventually leads to a violent automobile accident which left long-lasting repercussions: Alexia carries a titanium plate in her skull. Ducournau’s direction is flashy on the surface, as she dives into body horror head first. The blood, gore, and violence are in your face.

With bold direction on the surface, the story itself explores the love and respect between parents and their children. Sometimes, the maternal/paternal figures in our lives, might not even be the parents you are born with. Titane feels like it is divided into three acts quite clearly, and it all comes together at the end. When Alexia (Agathe Rousselle) is older, she is a car-showroom model and she begins to exhibit sexual attraction to her wares. As she explores her sexuality, with some very questionable sexual moments, Ducournau’s devilish storytelling presents the most obscure journey for Alexia.

Even though the story is quite shocking, it is impossible to look away. Rousselle commanded the screen and made Alexia into such a complex character. There are many twists and difficult moments throughout the film. Ducournau created such a suspenseful atmosphere, that any time Alexia had a crazed look in her eye, you knew she would do something unexpected. This is where the violence got really playful because to offset the brutal kills, there were needle drops to make it fun. The sound design also worked with the kills, you could hear every single bone cracking, every cut, and it was wicked.

Titane starts off in such a different place and Alexia’s journey is a wild one. It does drag a bit in the middle because it loses its footing. Ducournau was trying to build a new relationship in the middle of the film but it took too long to get it flowing. Once the relationship gets to a stronger point, there is another switch in the story. The ending is poetic, considering the parent/child relationships in this film. It’s bold in its sensuality, has a meaningful story, and the violent murders will leave you speechless.

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