Horror Review: Titane (2021)
Julia Ducournau is a writer and director who speaks directly to my soul. She bypasses my logical brain and my heart, and accesses some higher and somehow more primal version of myself.
I first encountered Ducournau’s work when I saw Raw (2016) in the theater when it came to New York City. Raw is a film that excites me, challenges me and makes me feel somehow incredibly validated, despite the fact that I am not a cannibal or a veterinarian.
In 2021, Titane, Ducournau’s second feature film, won the highest prize awarded at Cannes. It’s worth pointing out that this is only the second time a female directed film won Palme d’Or in the 70 years that Cannes has run. The first thing I noticed about Titane is that it’s absolutely stunning. The beautiful composition is only eclipsed by the use of shadow and colored light. Ruben Impens shot the film (Raw, The Broken Circle Breakdown, Beautiful Boy.)
The second thing I noticed was the soundtrack. A mix of well composed score and classic songs like She’s Not There by The Zombies and Doing it to Death by The Kills. Not to mention several renditions of Wayfaring Stranger. And the third thing I noticed by Titane was Agathe Rousselle, who plays Alexia / Adrien. Titane is Rousselle’s feature film debut, which was surprising to me. Everything about her is striking and powerful.
As expected Titane does not rely nearly as much on plot to convey Alexia’s story, as it does on emotion. Without spoiling anything, this film is an exploration of isolation, desire, rage, depression, identity and the burdens that we carry. I was mesmerized by the way this film engaged my senses. Perhaps I’ve been watching a lot of French films in this style lately, but I didn’t miss the plot. I don’t have a need to understand the holes. I was along for the ride and I was glad to be there.
Julia Ducournau’s films are meant to challenge society and us as individual audience members. Both Raw and Titane show bodies and sex in a way that feels both otherworldy and human at the same time.
Watch Titane with an open mind, and see where it takes you.