Titane ★★★★½

Titane is insane. It's unsettling, unnerving, confounding, profane, mysterious, and absolutely beautiful. I squirmed every two minutes, holding my knees together or grabbing my seat. It starts as a fetish giallo, moves into body horror, and then turns into something weirdly tender.

It is impossible to describe without saying too much. The tiny bit of summary that will still leave 100 minutes of surprises is that it follows a young woman with a metal plate in her head (Agathe Rousselle) who performs at a dance club where women grind or sud atop cars and men ask for their autographs. Our anti-heroine, who is introduced as a child being a violent brat in the car which causes an accident, does more than grind cars. We’ll leave it at that because there are certain set pieces here that are unlike anything you’ve seen. Some of it is very gross, some of it is humorous. And often it’s both at the same time. Though the car stuff is similar to David Cronenberg’s Crash, and the body horror similar to Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury’s Inside, there are some elements that also remind me of Claire Denis’ Beau Travail. Generally, I try to avoid comparing movies to others but that blender listed above is the most sensical way to describe what you’re in for without giving away the weird plot vibrations. And even with that trio of films there’s still two aspects of our anti-heroine’s journey that remain a complete mystery if you’re reading this. Did I mention that it’s also funny? Humor, horror, sex, violence, cars, and family. This movie literally has it all. But perhaps what's most important is that even though we are witnessing some depravity it always feels like it's building the journey not just doing it for the hell of it. So when it veers into sweeter territory it feels natural. (Of course, when it gets sweeter its still quite weird, don't worry.)

Big applause to Ducournau for a huge sophomore swing, the score by Jim Williams (Possessor), the camerawork by Ruben Impens (Beautiful Boy), and the fearless two lead performances. Vincent Lindon (La Haine) plays the captain of a firehouse. You won’t wanna know how that comes into play. (Also three cheers to Future Islands, old southeastern rock-n-roll buddies of mine who get a full song played in a scene that will likely be shared all year). Egads, what a wild movie and what a slap across the face at this 2021 festival. The confidence matches the execution.

Under the surface there are a number of gender role refusals playing out across genders and I can't wait to rewatch to explore that more. I'll still hold my inner thigh and close my eyes at one or two scenes, though.

More on day 8.

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