#TIFF21: “TITANE” REVIEW
Review by Amanda Gilmore
Body Horror has never looked so good as in Writer-Director Julia Ducournau’s Titane.
An automobile accident creates life-altering repercussions for child Alexie (Agathe Rousselle). In order to survive, she’s forced to get a titanium plate in her skull. But this one moment has disturbing ripple effects throughout her remaining years.
Ducournau has managed to make a Body Horror film laced with themes of sexual and gender fluidity. She introduces us to adult Alexie in a hyper-sexualized car show where she dances on the hood of a flame-painted car, gawked at by the male onlookers. Her use of music, dance and camera angles from this early scene evoke a high-octane thrill ride that kicks off and never stops. Ducournau shoots this scene in a way that shows the hyper-sexualized view of the female body. Later (without giving too much away), she brilliantly flips this on its head when Alexie performs in a similar way but under different circumstances. It’s with these two pivotal yet parallel scenes, Ducournau explores sexual and gender fluidity and makes us question our views.
Another theme Ducournau explores is parenthood. This is where true Body Horror is born. It’s hard to speak of Titane because it’s best to go in blind. Yet, this theme of parenthood must be highlighted as it results in a change in our lead. It’s through this parenthood theme the layers of the story and Alexie’s complexity become exposed. Rousselle shows immense depth with Alexie, exposing her rage, fear, anguish but also a longing ache simmering beneath the surface. She uses her entire body, hypnotizing and captivating audiences from beginning to end. Rousselle gives one of the best performances of the year.
Additionally, the theme of parenthood brings us firefighter Vincent (Vincent Lindon in a commanding performance) who lost his son 10 years ago and desires to be reunited with him. Once again, Ducournau uses music and dance to visualize the inner life of her character. Therefore, giving Vincent desperation and empathy that’s opposite to the rage-infused Alexie. Alone, Lindon and Rousselle are powerhouses but together, they are explosive.
Overall, Titane is a gory, high-octane thrill ride with a dose of needed dark humour. Ducournau is an artist that has something to say and a wild creative vision to get her voice heard. She is truly a master of her craft and in a lane of her own.
Titane screens at TIFF ’21:
Fri, Sep 10 at 11:59 PM at Princess of Wales
Sat, Sep 11 at 7 PM on Digital TIFF Bell Lightbox
Thu, Sep 16 at 8 PM at Cinesphere IMAX Theatre