With the Palme d'Or-winning Titane, Raw director Julia Ducournau wraps a devastating story about love inside a wild tale of serial killing, car sex and shifting identity
If you’ve heard anything about Julia Ducournau’s Palme d’Or-winning Titane, it probably sounded a little insane. Dancer-slash-serial killer Alexia (an incandescent debut performance by Agathe Rousselle) becomes pregnant after having sex with a Cadillac; fleeing from police, she adopts the identity of Adrien, the missing son of fireman Vincent (a stoic Vincent Lindon). Behold erotic dancing, killing sprees, a gender-angsty cyborg pregnancy that causes motor oil lactation, and the Macarena. It’s one of the most thrilling stories about love in recent years.
While Ducournau’s Raw sank its teeth into the question of what we inherit through our blood ties, Titane is a film about choosing your own family – risking ourselves through the messy vulnerability demanded by human connection, and tremulously shedding the armor we don in self-protection. Here are two strange people at war with their own bodies: Alexia binds her swelling stomach to play the role of Vincent’s son, while Vincent despairingly shoots steroids, trying to fight the softening of his musculature with age. Yet they soon discover a fierce kinship – the kind that sparks between one lonely, incomprehensible human being and another.
The scale of Titane’s imagination feels utterly mythical. Ducournau’s neon-drenched universe effortlessly morphs between surreal, practically religious imagery, and the embodied, visceral gore that we saw in Raw. But like every good myth, Titane is – at its bloodied flesh-and-metal heart – devastatingly human. It knows how much we ache for someone to tell us patiently, lovingly, unconditionally: “I’m right here with you.”
Titane had its UK premiere at London Film Festival and is released in the UK on 26 Dec by Altitude