Movie Review: Titane (2021)

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Julia Ducournau’s bleak and difficult French language drama Titane (B+) is a fascinating glimpse at finding love and redemption in an age when it is hard to distinguish human from machine and in which genderfluidity is the engine powering even more creative sparks than ever before. This is tough material, no doubt, but it will reward adventurous filmgoers with an indelible fable of finding shelter and dignity in unexpected ways. Once viewers get past the romantic coupling of a woman and a showroom vehicle resulting in a complicated pregnancy, there are many wonders to behold in France’s controversial entry into Oscar season. Agathe Rousselle gives the mighty performance in the film’s center, a raw and bruised portrayal of a dancer and occasional killer on the run and in absolute turmoil and often in conflict with her own body as she morphs from sexy siren to tight-lipped first responder and back again while the plot machinations mount in blistering bursts. Vincent Lindon is a fantastic foil to her character, portraying a man damaged in his own way seeking someone for whom he can be a caretaker and desperate for ways to showcase his own take on modern masculinity within a twisted and toxic culture. Ducournau blends provocative body horror film and hypnotic domestic family drama in a nightmarish series of surprising episodes, and she never wavers from a singular vision. Her unflinching film displays ethereal energy on the wide canvas of exposition halls and mosh pits and in the intimacy of tight quarters adds to the layers of the story and its original atmosphere. The film’s graphic and nihilistic spirit will be tough for some audiences, but it’s an indelible and engrossing experience built on a complex character.

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