This modern wave of extreme horror is something that I’m not fully familiar with. I’ve seen a few of the films and some videos on it on YouTube, but the horror I tend to be more interested in is the A24 style, rather than the extreme stuff. One of the extreme films that I have seen is Julia Ducournau’s Raw, which I found to be a very well made film, but one that wasn’t quite for me. That said, following its win of the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, I was intrigued to see this, and I ended up finding this to be a highly engaging film.
The film focuses on Alexia, a young woman working as a showgirl at a motorshow, who has a titanium plate in her head following a car crash when she was younger. Through a series of events she comes into contact with Vincent, a firefighter who’s son went missing several years earlier. Now I don’t really want to go into more detail about the plot as the trailers have given very little away and I don’t want to spoil the surprises. There are a lot of well handled themes in the film, such as the relationship between people and machine and the nature of unconditional love. There are moments in the film which are shocking and extreme, but it uses the imagery of body horror to tell a fascinating story about the nature of human interaction. You can see the influence that people like David Cronenberg have had on Ducournau in how extreme imagery can be used to demonstrate deeply human ideas and, between this and Raw, Ducournau is demonstrating that she is one of the best in the business right now at this blending of imagery and theme in the context of extreme horror.
The performances as well help to make the film as powerful as it is. For her first lead performance, Agathe Rousselle is excellent as Alexia, particularly with how she uses her body language. For most of the film, she has no dialogue so her body language and eye movements are vital at demonstrating the nature of her character, and considering that she is playing a very complex figure, her body language throughout the film is brilliantly shown. Vincent Lindon as Vincent also gives an excellent performance. A lot of the themes of unconditional love and the need for human interaction come through with his performance, along with him showing feelings of inadequacy in his physical form, tying into the nature of his masculinity. The chemistry that Rousselle and Lindon have is electric and helps to make the bond the two of them develop throughout the film feel believable and gives the film a lot of its emotional power.
The technical elements of the film are also well handled. The way that Ducournau uses dance and movement throughout the film is a highlight, especially near the end of the film, showing how dance can be used to express emotions that cannot be expressed through words. The use of lighting is a highlight as well, providing a good contrast through the different environments of the film. The make-up work is excellent throughout, not only with the scar on Alexia’s head but also the body horror imagery throughout the film, especially near the end of the film. This does create some scenes which are difficult to sit through, but work in adding to the power of the film.
Overall, I didn’t expect that I would find Titane as compelling as it ended up being. Ducournau shows how the imagery of body horror can be utilised to create a compelling, distinctly human drama and this ends up being one of the most impactful films of the year.
My Rating: 5/5