Their film is one of the strangest winners of the year. Do with it.


It’s when Alexia’s breasts start to leak motor oil that there’s no doubt her baby’s father was the cheated Cadillac she had rough sex with after the show. erotic auto, the night she killed a guy by stabbing him in the ear.

That’s before she launches into a killing spree, breaks her nose and disguises herself as the missing son of a fire chief on steroids who accepts: it’s her child.

This is just a glimpse of the poignant events of “Titane”, Julia Ducournau’s daring drama which opened on Friday. The film wins awards and rave reviews for its comedic carnage and genre reversal – and for a raw performance by newcomer Agathe Rousselle as Alexia, who is carnally drawn to cars.

“Titanium” also generates drooping jaws and cries from film buffs outraged by its bloody and outraged approach to the story of a woman who, as Ducournau puts it, “is driven by her impulses and desires for the dead matter that she is. is the metal “but which” begins to come in contact with its humanity step by step. ” One reviewer called it “the most shocking movie of 2021”.

Sitting in a fairly French bistro the night before the premiere of “Titane” at the New York Film Festival, the word Ducournau most often used was not “berserk” or any other creepy adjective used by critics. The word was “love”.

“The point of my film is to make you feel what the characters are feeling, but it’s hard to make you feel love, to feel it physically,” in the movies, she said. “So I decided to do it as a challenge and ask: can you do this with love? “

Rousselle also used the word to describe the film in a separate interview: “You have this beautiful love story between my character, who has never been in love before, and a father who thinks he will never be able to love again.” and find out what it means to love and what it means to love, ”she said. “Love is the film.”

At 37, after only two feature films, Ducournau, originally from Paris, has already become a genre cinema sensation. In the eyes of Alexandra West, author of “Films from the new French extremity: visceral horror and national identity”, Ducournau’s work is “extreme and absurd but also human” and “is part of the engine of the future of cinema. . “

“She challenges the audience and gets the audience to react to the movies and talk to each other,” West said. “That’s exciting.”

Director M. Night Shyamalan noticed: Ducournau directed two episodes of the macabre AppleTV + series “Servant”, of which he is executive producer. “Julia Ducournau killed him. Disturbing, shocking and cinematic ”, he tweeted.

Reviews of “Titanium” have been mostly festive (Entertainment Weekly called it “outrageously good”) while keeping in mind its macabre bravado (“the work of a demented visionary,” IndieWire wrote) . Others wondered: to what end? In his review for The Times, AO Scott wrote: “Despite all his reckless style and velocity, ‘Titanium’ doesn’t seem to know where he wants to go.

In July, “Titane” was the surprise winner of the Palme d’Or, first prize at the Cannes Film Festival. It was the first time a woman had won this award since Jane Campion in 1993 for “The Piano”. Ducournau said she was in disbelief until she hugged Sharon Stone and didn’t let go. Then the actress asked how she was feeling.

“I said, I’m not sure yet, but does that sound like history?” Said Ducournau. “She started to laugh, only how Sharon Stone can laugh, stress free and tension free and super radiant, and she said, honey, that is the story.”

Ducournau was caught off guard at the start of the ceremony when Spike Lee, chairman of the jury, was asked to nominate the first winner, but accidentally revealed that “Titanium” was the first winner. He later said he was “wrong” and apologized to the festival organizers.

“At the moment, it was difficult to find the humor there,” said Ducournau. “But looking back, I find it very good.”

Ducournau said she knew she wanted an unprofessional to play Alexia. After her casting director found Rousselle on Instagram, Ducournau said, she brought Rousselle back several times for six months before giving him the job, and they worked together for a year before filming.

To prepare for a physically demanding role involving extreme transformations, Rousselle studied dance and boxing and learned heart-wrenching monologues from other movies and shows, like the “Twin Peaks” cemetery speech given by Laura’s best friend. Palmer.

Rousselle also spent up to eight hours a day getting in and out of makeup and prosthetics that gave her bigger breasts, enlarged belly shapes, and three different noses (for a broken nose scene). It helped that she worked as a favored model for her androgyny.

“Gender has never been relevant to me,” Rousselle said. “When I was working in fashion, I would take my clothes off for a fitting and they would say, do you have breasts? I would say yes, handle it.

Beneath the Gore is a film that is affectionate in its scrutiny of love and family, directed by a director who cares deeply about family, identity and, most dearly, the lives of women.

Women in transformation, in fact. This is what Ducournau explored in his short film “Junior” (2011), about a teenage girl whose body oozes as she evolves from tomboy to girly-girl. She explored transformation again in her feature debut, “Raw” (2017), a bloody coming-of-age story about a young woman who horribly converts from vegetarian to carnivore to cannibal.

She starts again in “Titanium” with Alexia, a woman whose pregnancy (thanks to this Cadillac) and whose propensity to kill at random are linked to the titanium plates that the doctors put in her head after a car accident in which she survived as a girl. (“Titane” is French for “titane.”)

“Titane” opened in France in July, and Rousselle said she was encouraged by the response from “the cheesy crowd of high school kids who play video games and have blue hair.” Some have seen the film multiple times, she said.

Rousselle thought the movie might be important for teenagers “because it goes through the questions of how you want to be and who you can be and how you can escape where you’re from and how much control you can have over your life” , she mentioned. “It’s liberating for them.

Ducournau said that when thinking about her next project, she was inspired by the work of photographer Nan Goldin and directors Stanley Kubrick, Pier Paolo Pasolini and especially David Cronenberg. In her films – like “Crash”, about people turned on by car crashes – she has said that “anything people find disgusting can be shown as human.”

“A vision that transcends expectations inspires me a lot,” she said.

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