Review: “Raw” director returns with brilliantly disturbing film
Winner of the Palme d’Or, the most prestigious award given at the Cannes Film Festival, “Titane” is the sequel of screenwriter and director Julia Ducournau to cannibalism, body horror film “Raw”. In “Titane”, the story follows Alexia (Agathe Rousselle), who was in a car accident at a very young age. At the very beginning of many strange events that populate the film, Alexia gets a titanium plate embedded in her head and develops a sexual attraction to cars. What follows this inciting incident has to be considered one of the most disturbing and best films of recent years.
“Titane” cements Ducournau as one of the most exciting and daring directors of his time; if there is justice, she will receive a nomination for best director at the oscars for her work here. “Titanium” is a brilliant film filled with a gruesome and sadistic body horror from start to finish. Despite this, even in the hardest movie–To–watching moments, Ducournau never loses sight of the fact that his characters are at the center of every scene. Many scenes are shot in long shots, allowing the audience to feel the visceral experience of the characters. It is especially at the beginning of the film, when viewers see women undressing in front of cars. There is a nice wide shot here that allows the audience to capture the highly sexual nature of the surroundings, while not allowing the audience to give in to the ‘male gaze‘ that plagued so many other female-directed horror films. Ducournau is thankfully more interested in exploring the experience Alexia faces with regards to their gender and body, rather than the experience men have looking at the main character.
Ducournau, in his screenplay and directing, manages to balance three very different acts as the story turns on almost every turn. Partly it’s a relentlessly violent serial killer film, a father-child drama and a horrific horror film at the same time. At the heart of “Titanium” is an effective story about trauma and gender expression, reflected in the extreme violence and twists of the story. For a large majority of the story, in order to avoid being arrested by the police, Alexia disguises herself as a man. Throughout the rest of the story, especially with the relationship Alexia builds with father figure Vincent (Vincent Lindon), audiences see Alexia explore their gender and how they present themselves to the world. This often takes extreme measures, as Alexia harms herself physically in order to disguise her femininity. While these scenes are extremely difficult to watch, with a few extremely disturbing images put on screen, they are necessary. These scenes help audiences understand the brutal lengths that unresolved trauma and rigid gender roles in society can have on a person physically and mentally.
âTitaniumâ can be described as a lot of things, but being shocking just for the sake of being shocking is not one of them. While some warnings regarding extremely graphic violence and sexual content must be shared, “Titanium” is an excellent film. For those who can take it, âTitaniumâ deserves to be seen on the big screen and hopefully won’t be overlooked by awards shows and audiences for its hard-to-digest body horror.