Titane (2021)
Directed and written by Julia Ducournau.

I watched this a week ago and I’ve been sitting on my review for days, tweaking words, trying to find the language to describe it without spoiling it. Seriously, this movie is difficult, demanding, utterly insane, at times hard to watch but it’s also blackly funny, deeply poignant but impossible to neglect and has stayed with me relentlessly all week.

Titane is Ducournau’s second feature and, in my opinion, a better, more interesting film than her debut, Raw (2017), which left me feeling distanced, at arm’s length from the story and the characters. Where Raw was clearly examining eating disorders and body image, Titane examines body image but particularly drills down into gender roles.

It’s also a film of two distinct halves, the ultra violent, hypersexualised first half, melancholic examination of belonging in the other. Body horror abounds throughout, so this film is not for everyone, certainly not for the faint hearted but unlike so many films that sit in the genre, none of the violence feels gratuitous.

Two riveting central performances ground the film. Comparative newcomer Agathe Rousselle is the tough and uncompromising Alexia, and French national treasure Vincent Lindon, the ageing firefighter trying to defy the march of time. Neither of them are particularly likeable (especially Alexia) but ultimately both are heartbreakingly relatable.

Ducournau is a wonderful “show, don’t tell” filmmaker and I can see where she was influenced by Hitchcock generally and Vertigo (1958) specifically, but Titane asks more questions than it answers and will haunt you all the while. I sincerely hope it is a huge success outside of its native France, where it won the Cannes Festival Palme D’Or earlier this year. But equally, I hope some producer with dollar signs in their eyes DOESN’T try and make an English language version – that would be exploitation!

Undoubtedly one of the most original films I’ve seen in ages, I think it’s a masterpiece that will stand the test of time. Titane is currently showing in select cinemas throughout Australia.

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