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NYFF: ‘Titane’ Review — Beautifully Absurd

by Jonathan Sim about a month ago in review

No spoilers!

This is a movie about a woman who has sex with a car and gets pregnant. It won the Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival. I have no words.

Titane is a movie like no other. This body horror thriller comes to us from Julia Ducournau, and it has a premise that is, um, shocking.

If you watch this movie and describe the story to those who ask, they will either not believe you or ask which character Adam Sandler plays in the film. This is a unique, beautifully absurd idea for a movie that could be laughable, but for the most part, plays it straight.

You could have taken a premise like this and gone down an absurdist comedy route along the lines of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Junior (ironically sharing the name of Ducournau’s first short film). But anyone who has seen Ducournau’s feature debut, Raw, knows that that is not her style.

Ducournau’s affinity for flesh is all over this film. There are utterly shocking scenes in this story that take so many strange, dark turns that it is best to go into this film cold. It has moments of grotesque violence that will likely be off-putting for many viewers.

While the film has its moments of violence, it knows when to cut away from the violence rather than reveling in grossness the way the Saw franchise has. It’s graphic in all the right ways, as Ducournau plays around with the tension of knowing we’re about to see something that will send a chill down our spine before it even happens.

Beneath every horrifying event in this story, we have a dark sense of humor lying through much of the film. The movie can draw a couple of good laughs from the audience, but you can see how it’s always intentional, inviting viewers to laugh with the film rather than at it.

It’s a genuinely twisted film adeptly tackling themes of femininity, sexuality, and unconditional love. Every character is taken to new, exciting places as the film elicits disgust and a fair amount of entertainment value. Motor oil comes out of our protagonist’s vagina, everyone. This movie exists, and it is skillfully made.

Mainstream audiences may not see eye to eye with this film. It’s not a movie for everyone, and it is sure to take on a life of its own when the film gets its domestic release in October. It has the makings of a strange cult film, but it’s more likely to make its rounds among passionate cinephiles.

Essentially, this movie could rub some people the wrong way due to the audacity of it all. But there is no movie like this, and it is a genuine shock that a film this out of this world is coming to theaters. This is a love-it-or-hate-it thrill ride that can get many people discussing its deeper meanings.

What makes the film even more gripping to watch is the performances. This is leading lady Agathe Rouselle’s first role in a movie, and she knocks it out of the park as Alexia. She is fantastic in every second of the movie, and this film is a showcase of her talent that will hopefully land her more roles in the future.

Vincent Landon is also phenomenal as Vincent, a character with many personal demons who crosses paths with Alexia. These two vanish into their roles, with Vincent showing so much emotion and Alexia being such a complex protagonist where we are not sure if we’re supposed to be rooting for or against her.

This movie will alienate some, but it will have film lovers drooling over the strange story and Ruben Impens’s cinematography. Some will call this film needlessly pretentious, but the bonkers ending will leave many happy with what they saw. This movie is weird, bold, and powerful enough to leave its mark on you after the credits roll.

Grade: ★★★✬☆ [7/10, B-]

Jonathan’s Tips: Don’t read more into the premise. Just go in cold.

Titane releases in the United States on October 1st.

review

Jonathan Sim

Film critic. Lover of Pixar, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Marvel, DC, Back to the Future, and Lord of the Rings.

For business inquiries: [email protected]

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