September 24, 2021

GENRE | Julia Ducournau Shifts Gears – 'Titane' x TIFF 2021

Agathe Rousselle Julia Ducournau | Titane | TIFF Midnight Madness 2021
Toronto International Film Festival
A car model with a metal plate in her head has graphic sex with a car, gets pregnant, goes on a murderous rampage then hides out by gaslighting a grieving father and pretending to be his missing son. Palme d'Or-winning Raw filmmaker Julia Ducournau writes and directs easily the wildest, most audacious film of the year. Titane ("Titanium") dives into the physical nature of gender through surrealist body horror imagery and the female form.

Starring Agathe Rousselle in a fairly tour de force, gonzo performance as an impiusive serial killer on the run with the aforementioned titanium plate holding her brain together (as referenced in the film's title) and whose sexual proclivities (shades Cameron Diaz in The Counselor) are informed by a childhood trauma shown in the prologue. She then goes on the run and disguises herself in assuming the identity of a long since missing boy and living with his equally damaged firefighter captain father as his now-adult son.

It takes a while before Titane reveals what exactly kind of film it is. Vincent Lindon co-stars as a steroid-addicted father still deep in grief years after his young son went missing. They live and work in and around his fire station surrounded by muscle-bound young men in contrast to the sensual female bodies we're shown in between.

Garance Marillier | Julia Ducournau's Titane | TIFF Midnight Madness 2021
Neon / Elevation Pictures
Ducournau goes to insane places with such wild story turns and surrealist magical elements of metal meets human flesh. Rousselle's hard-driving performance bursts with a compulsive energy until she finds Lindon's softly aging masculinity seen through his brawny but brokedown body.

It's hard to fully grasp the sophisticated ideas about bodies, parenthood, sexuality, and physical trauma expressed in Titane, because the film is so thrilling and horrific moment by moment. There's something magical about Ducournau's bold vision of pregnancy and gender identity told with a defiant audaciousness on screen.

Titane screened at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival as part of the Midnight Madness program.

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