So, where to begin with Titane? The French official submission for International Feature directed by Julia Ducournau has caused a stir on social media and within screenings. With reports of many walkouts and several people fainting during the film. However, is it as daring as it has been made out to be and was France right to select it as their contender this year?
Titane is a film that takes the audience on a journey that they will not be expecting. Immediately starting with a childhood tragedy that takes place with our leading character Alexia (played as an adult by Agathe Rousselle), the film’s exposition is well established. However, Alexia’s pathway soon takes a darker route, leading her to an experience nobody could predict.
In terms of the horror, Ducournau finds a way to balance this out with a surprising amount of comedy. Helping to lighten the more shocking moments. She also leaves nothing to the imagination, capturing every bloody and gruesome moment on camera. The effects are so well done in bringing these gross – yet imaginative – moments to light. The writing of these scenes also helps show a progression with Alexia’s character, particularly in the first 30 minutes of the film. At first, it is easy to sympathise with her and to cheer her on, but it quickly spirals out of control as the audience is made to distance themselves from her actions.
What ended up being the most surprising aspect of Titane was the heart of the story and how Ducournau created a compelling story of family within this twisted tale. The exposition helped set up a distant relationship between Alexia and her father, and this is contrasted with a father-like relationship that Alexia goes on to develop with someone later in the film. Whilst jarring and strange at first, it was easy to warm to this relationship and to see how their connection was impacted with every reveal that came afterwards.
There are aspects of Titane that stop it from being a top-tier film from the festival. Whether that is down to the expectations going into something like this or due to the unpredictable nature of the story. The writing does suffer from trying to balance the human and the fantasy elements of the film, as there are a lot of different aspects to this story. Certain elements that are highlighted both in the opening and the advertising of this film are left untouched for a large majority of the second half. Potentially leaving the audience wanting further exploration of something that wasn’t given by the end.
It is nice to see France take a risk with their official selection, and what a film to choose. The Palme d’Or winner does not disappoint as the film provides all the shocks and surprises one could hope for. If you were not already familiar with Julia Ducournau’s name from Raw, you will certainly know it after Titane.
Titane is released in cinemas from December 31
Director: Julia Ducournau
Stars: Agathe Rousselle, Vincent Lindon, Garance Marillier, Laïs Salameh
Runtime: 108 minutes