Titane (2021)

A bizzare tale of an exhibition dancer who goes on a killing spree and hides as a boy, changing her life forever


6/25/20232 min read

Agatha Rouselle as dancer Alexia in 'Titane'
Agatha Rouselle as dancer Alexia in 'Titane'

France, 148 minutes, 2021

Director: Julia Ducournau

Cast: Agatha Rouselle, Vincent Lindon

Awards: Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival, 2021; People’s choice award of Midnight madness at Toronto international Film Festival, 2021

With this film I found out that there is a genre now-a-days which is called ‘Body horror’. Had I known it earlier I would not have seen this film. The film steam rolls on body horror, violence and gruesome murders which permeates through the entire length of 108 minutes.

The story, which frankly does not make any difference, is that a girl meets with an accident when young and a titanium plate is fixed to render support to her fractured skull. As she grows, the girl, Alexia (Agatha Rousselle) becomes an exhibition dancer for car shows. And then she starts killing. After the first killing she takes bath and has sex with car (What a concept!). What prompts her to unprovoked murders is anybody’s guess. She tries to burn her blood stained blanket which accidently burns down her house, a house where she used to live with her mother and father. She is now seen pregnant and test shows she is positively pregnant-with car’s son/daughter! Phew!

Then there is a police hunt and to escape that she disguises herself as a boy, Adrien. Some Police van picks her up and some fireman named Vincent (Vincent Lindon), running a private fire extinguishing service, thinks ‘him’ as his long lost son and brings her home. All through the journey she doesn’t speak prompting him to ask whether she ever speaks or not?

Then there are series of fire incidences which kind of bring these two characters closer to each other. Her belly is 'showing' and in one scene motor oil instead of blood is oozing out of her belly.

I could not take away any positives out of the film despite my best attempts at thinking. Imagine my horror when I learnt this film won the top prize at the top film festival in 2021- Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival, 2021! The director, Julia Ducournau, seems wanted to create a sensational attempt at body horror and esoteric filmmaking resulting in Titane.

Give a definite miss if you are allergic to violence.

About the director, Julia Ducournau

Borne in November, 1983 Julia is a French director and screenplay writer. She studied screenwriting and right from beginning is experimenting and indulging with the genre of ‘body horror’ style of film making. Ducournau's films has become known for being sensational, brutal and disturbing. In a screening of her first feature film ‘Raw’ at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival, two audience members reportedly fainted and were taken to the hospital.

Titane is Julia’s second feature which won the top prize Palme d’Or at the Cannes film festival, 2021. She is the first woman to win this award solo. In 1993, Jane Campion had won this prize (for ‘The Piano’) along with Chen Kaige (for ‘Farewell my concubine’).

Born to doctor parents (her mother is a gynecologist and father is a dermatologist), Julia in one of her interviews, states that her thinking has shaped in light of the discussions her parents had with each other and being doctors, they have a very distant and objective way towards human body.