Titane is an acid-laced experience, hard to describe in exact words the sensation of it. Julia Ducournau’s body horror, Palme d’Or winning film takes the completely unhinged premise of a symbiotic relationship between woman and machine, slaps on a complex human drama, and lingers on the one question that holds your attention to the last moment. Outside of the batty story, the sheer energy of the filmmaking and performances give way to a strange type of horror that is unconventional.
It’s an admirable film from many angles, incorporating the cringe body horror elements and the underlying nature of her relationship with those surrounding her – mainly the bizarre connection between Adrien (Agathe Rousselle) and Vincent (Vincent London). It’s an experience that jumps from one manic emotion to the next at blazing speeds, making it challenging to keep up at times. The two central performances do a phenomenal job at handling this rush of confusing emotion and translate it in fascinating albeit bizarre ways.
Even so, the film’s erratic editing made for a disjointed viewing. Scenes switch to a different tone on a dime, and it’s not always easy to engage in the rapid approach to the narrative. The actors do a marvelous job reacting to these changes, but it’s not so simple for an audience to pick up on when there are already so many questions on the mind. Ducournau’s script is purposefully overwhelming in theme, character, dialogue, and even plot, then throws in a visual language that’s constantly screaming at you. The film and script have a lot going on, and while some of it lands, other ideas are too wild even for this story. However, Titane has a clear direction that persists throughout, and that’s to drive a metal stake into your ear. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience and one that will surely grow on me over the years.
As for the ending, it was a satisfying conclusion but still left me with any questions regarding the film’s logic. Thematically speaking, the end works in meaningful ways and is the best piece of writing in the entire script, considering it felt as if it was the natural conclusion to this arc.
Titane Entertains the Comedy of the Absurd
The theater began to shake when THE defining scene began. The pounding sound of a bass drum highlights the absurdity of what’s to come next. Hot and sweaty car sex. The stage is set when Adrien enters the garage, signifying a lioness returning to her king, as the high beams spotlight the lions prey. The next shot sequence of shots is nearly indescribable – Adrien becoming intimate with cold, hard machine. As the pistons fire for pleasure in the cars engine, the filmmaking turns from narrative to smut film.
It’s a scene that will live in the annals of weird cinema history. Machine and women. Even stranger, the film pivots from extreme body horror to complex human drama with poignancy. The themes of Titane are shockingly deep for a film based around the premise of literal car sex. One of the weirdest movies in the new decade so far and now Julia Ducournau’s two-for-two in releasing films with psychotic levels of energy and a batty premise. She’s instantly shot-up to one of the must-see directors working in the industry and her career is just now getting started.