So much has been said about this film’s exploits that have caused such responses in audiences like groans, gasps, jeers, laughter, and even fainting. But as its writer-director Julia Ducournau has maintained in interviews, Titane is essentially a love story between two people who find each other through fate.
As a young girl, Alexia (Agathe Rousselle) is injured in a car accident, resulting in a titanium plate being inserted in the side of her head, which seems to increase her love with automobiles and decreases her love with people – this is evident from her becoming a serial killer and having sex with cars. If this sounds like an insane story so far, this is only fifteen minutes into the film. From this point on, as she goes on the lam, she contrives a way to stay at the home of firefighter (Vincent Lindon), while she tries to hide her rather mechanical-looking pregnancy.
There’s quite a bit to juggle in the film, yet Titane has an engaging and slightly hypnotising quality to it, supported by some very handsome modern cinematography and music, which makes this hell of a tale go down easier. The love aspect of the film actually compliments its more grotesque moments, and vice versa. It may not exactly be a horror film, given its lack of scares, but it typifies the body horror genre, offering up plenty of anxiety about the body changing, transforming, and perhaps evolving. It’s a hard film to compare to any other, given it’s so blatant and radical in its originality. Some have compared it to David Cronenberg’s Crash, but it oddly contains far more body horror on display than that film.
Suffice to say, this isn’t for everyone. Titane is challenging on a visceral level, though its thematic content is actually easily accessible. Although it keeps its metaphors more satisfyingly vague, it delights in being upfront with its extreme display of flesh and metal. It’s a fun film (if you’re into your sick films) that’s sometimes hilarious by how extreme it goes, and its musings on the decreasing divide between man and machine is thoughtful without being didactic. It’s a sick and demented film with a big heart in the middle.