The Movie Waffler New to MUBI - TITANE | The Movie Waffler


titane review
A female serial killer poses as a missing teenage boy.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Julia Ducournau

Starring: Agathe Rousselle, Vincent Lindon, Garance Marillier, Laïs Salameh, Bertrand Bonello

titane poster

French writer/director Julia Ducournau's outstanding debut Raw featured a young woman with an obsession with meat. For her sophomore effort, Titane, meat has been replaced by metal. Like another recent Gallic oddity, Zoé Wittock's Jumbo, Titane gives us an objectophile protagonist.

The inanimate objects that attract Alexia (first timer Agathe Rousselle) are motor vehicles. We're led to believe that she shares a connection with such vehicles due to the titanium plate in her head, installed after a car crash she caused as a young girl.

titane review

Alexia has found a way to make money doing what she enjoys. She performs erotic dances with cars on display at shows, and has amassed an army of fans. She's also the serial killer who has been terrorising her corner of France, murdering her victims with a hair-pin. Feeling the heat, she decides to change her identity to that of Adrien Legrand, a missing child who would now be in his late teens. After breaking her nose, cutting her hair and shaving off her eyebrows in an attempt to resemble Adrien, she is taken in by the boy's father, veteran firefighter Vincent (Vincent Lindon).

I forgot to mention that at this point there's also the small matter of Alexia being pregnant, having been knocked up by a Cadillac. This gives her a bulging belly with a steel plate inside, and leaves her lactating oil from her breasts.

titane review

For all the psychotronic madness of its opening act, Titane settles into what is essentially a straight narrative about a woman concealing her identity and the man who seems willing to accept her, however transparent her disguise might be. With Raw, Ducournau managed to skilfully combine the thrills of the horror genre with a coming-of-age story, but she can't quite pull off the same feat here. If anything, the film's more outré elements get in the way and feel like an attention-seeking distraction. From a commercial perspective it works, as I doubt many people would be talking about Titane were it not for its more bonkers moments. But after the maturity of her debut, Titane feels like a regression for Ducournau, a movie hampered by its childish desire to shock.

Despite all that, there is admittedly some very good filmmaking on display here. Alexia's early serial-killing exploits are executed with aplomb by Ducournau, calling back to the best movies of the 2000s New French Extremity movement. Comic beats are skilfully set up with crackerjack timing and expert camera placement. A "oner" through the car show is one of the more interesting uses of the unbroken tracking shot technique, as unlike so many it doesn't simply follow the protagonist through the space but rather veers away from her only to catch up with her later – the skill here is just as much in what's happening offscreen.

titane review

The veteran Lindon and the newcomer Rousselle share a sweetly unconventional father/son dynamic that teases the more interesting movie Titane might have been if it dropped its Cronenbergian façade. The central plot seems heavily influenced by the documentary The Imposter, which I was certain would have been made into a narrative movie by now, but Titane is probably the closest we'll get to such an adaptation.

Titane proves that Ducournau is certainly confident behind the wheel. I just wish she had taken us on a more interesting journey this time.

 is on MUBI UK now.