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The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Buckle up before seeing ‘Titane’

Carole Bethuel / NEON
Agathe Rousselle in Julia Ducournau’s newest body horror movie “Titane,” which was released in U.S. theaters on Oct. 1.

French director Julia Ducournau is back with another unsettling, body horror film just in time for Halloween.

“Titane,” which was released in U.S. theaters on Oct. 1, is bold, violent and surprisingly sexy. Only Ducournau can write and direct a gruesome, yet emotional film about a woman who is sexually attracted to cars. 

This audacious thriller follows Alexia, who experiences a car accident as a child – as seen in the jolting opening scene – and has a titanium plate placed in her head. The first sign of Alexia’s unhuman connection is when she passionately kisses a car after her stay in the hospital with her new giant scar in view. 

Then, following a series of bizarre crimes as a young adult, which featured some epic, choreographed kill scenes of Alexia stabbing unlucky people with her large hairpin, she gets impregnated by a Cadillac and starts leaking motor oil. 

As if her unusual encounter isn’t strange enough, Alexia, now a serial killer, impersonates the missing son of a firefighter on steroids, Adrien.

It’s difficult to think of the deeper meaning of this movie while watching Alexia on screen with her growing, veiny stomach and her rough facial features, especially during her wild night in the back seat of the car. But after thinking about what the different parts of the movie mean in conjunction with each other, it boils down to love. 

On the surface, it’s a body horror movie about a woman who has sex with a car and disguises herself as a lonely man’s son. But beneath the provocative drama, it’s a story of identity and the fluidity of gender. 

Viewers see Alexia struggling with her identity from the start when she hooks up with a girl for the first time and is unsure if she’ll ever find true love. Vincent, the firefighter, stopped feeling love and compassion when his son went missing, but he starts to feel it when Alexia enters his life as Adrien and fills this void. Eventually, he realizes she was impersonating the whole time, but Vincent still unconditionally accepts her even when she gives birth. 

And yes, she somehow gave birth to a seemingly human baby.

Even for its shocking, Cronenberg-like moments, there are intimate dance scenes such as Alexia dancing with Vincent, Alexia provocatively dancing on top of a firetruck while the firemen watch in awe and the firemen dancing in a club together after a difficult day. These scenes are mesmerizing and create vulnerability with the cool lighting, flowing movements and gliding camera work.

Ducournau is a phenomenal director who understands what it’s like to be a woman. “Titane” is her second film following her debut feature “Raw,” another unsettling feminist horror film, but “Titane” is arguably more tender and moving. Her films are grotesque, but also have a beating heart at the center of it. She is the future of filmmaking. 

Vincent Lindon delivers a raw performance as a desperate father who simply misses his son and is willing to look past any glaring differences to bring Alexia, aka Adrien, into his life and make her his pride and joy. Alexia tags along on his firefighter missions and there’s one scene where she reluctantly has to give someone CPR. 

French model and newcomer actress Agathe Rousselle shines in the tough role as the hardened Alexia. Her already androgynous features helps to complete Alexia’s looks, particularly in a few scenes where she wraps an Ace bandage around herself to disguise as the boy. It will be exciting to see what other roles Rousselle picks up next after her dizzying performance.

Even critics loved Ducournau’s film and it’s clearly well deserved. “Titane” won the noteworthy Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, making Ducournau the second woman to win this award in the festival’s 75-year history. 

“Titane” may not be for everyone, but its layered storylines, repulsive scenes and touching moments sure make for an unforgettable theater experience. Above all, even in the most uneasy times, we are all still humans trying to form connections.

Follow Sarah on twitter @thesarahdipity.

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About the Contributor
Sarah Lukowski, Arts & Culture Editor | she/her
Sarah Lukowski is a senior journalism and public relations major from Middlebury, Connecticut. Sarah joined The Suffolk Journal in fall 2018 as a Staff Writer and is now the Arts & Culture Editor. When she's not typing away at her computer, you can find her proclaiming her love for Taylor Swift, reading the latest young adult novel, or watching classic horror movies. Follow Sarah on Twitter @thesarahdipity Email her at [email protected]

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Buckle up before seeing ‘Titane’