The Reel Review

B-

A female serial killer with a titanium skull plate from a childhood car accident seizes on an opportunity to make a new life for herself in this surreal, French body horror/sci-fi drama from director Julia Ducournau (Raw).

Agathe Rousselle in Titane.

In addition to being a serial killer, Alexia (an impressive Agathe Rousselle) also is an exotic dancer at underground car shows. She’s sexually attracted to cars, even becoming impregnated by a Cadillac. (Um… okay.) Leaking motor oil from her breasts and vagina, Alexia disguises her identity, and pretends to be the long-missing son of a steroid-using fire chief (an also excellent Vincent Lindon). Both, it turns out, are fighting physical changes within their bodies. She is fighting that she is not a man, but rather, a pregnant woman with a growing car baby inside her. He is fighting that he is aging.

Vincent Lindon in Titane.

Ducournau’s trippy body horror, in the vein of David Cronenberg’s controversial 1996 film Crash, is not so much a coherent story as it is violent performance art, exploring the lengths people will go to avoid the harsh realities of life. A lot of it feels shocking for the sake of being shocking, but it is never dull, and showcases compelling performances from its two leads. Titane requires a huge suspension of disbelief – something most viewers will find off putting. But for those few who enjoy trippy, surrealistic body horror, Titane is quite the ride.

REEL FACTS

Agathe Rousselle, Julia Ducournau and Vincent Lindon at the screening of Titane at the Cannes Film Festival on July 13, 2021.

Titane won the grand prize, the Palme d’Or, at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival and was France’s Best International Film entry for the 2022 Academy Awards.

Titane is the feature film debut for French journalist, model and actress Agathe Rousselle, who also is co-founder of the feminist magazine Peach.

• Alexia and Justine are also the names of the main characters in Julia Decournau’s 2016 debut film, Raw, which is about a veterinary student who develops a taste for human flesh.

 

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