holli’s review published on Letterboxd:
disclaimer: i didn't watch this twice in the span of 24 hours (i'm not insane) but i had some more thoughts on this film and how it connected to me i wanted to get off my chest. also, i don't directly spoil any events in the film, but i do talk heavily about theme, so if you want to go in completely blind, maybe hold off on reading this.
a few weeks ago, i went on a generally forgettable first date with a guy, but there was one conversation i keep finding myself going back to. at some point, i casually mentioned i was non-binary. he didn't really have any reaction to it, but he brought it up again later, asking my pronouns because he wanted to be respectful. i told him i don't really care about pronouns. i think he was a bit confused by my nonchalant attitude towards it. he then proceeded to say something along the lines of, "i totally respect it, but i still don't think i fully understand it" to which i responded, "i don't think it's something you can fully understand unless you experience it." this interaction has been ruminating in the back of my mind. it made me realize i'm tired of trying to justify myself to people. i truly can't explain my gender identity to people who have never questioned theirs. to me, gender isn't something that can just be explained in a nice little instagram infographic. there's no rules and regulations. it's messy and beautiful and indescribable. it can be full of jealousy and desire that almost feels violent but can also be full of freedom and liberation. i don't know anything about julia ducournau's personal experiences with gender identity, but i feel she really captured that indescribable internal push and pull and externalized it in the flesh.
titane is not a film that seeks to answer your questions. i still don't fully understand some of the protagonist's motives. but i do understand the pain, the confusion. this isn't a film just about bodies and about gender, but also about parenthood and family. but, for people who aren't cis, i think those two can go hand-in-hand. personally, i don't experience a lot of body dysmorphia. i'm fairly "feminine" by society's standards. but, when i think about the possibility of getting pregnant, something in my body wants to recoil into itself. for example, i've never had any dysmorphia with having boobs in the same way some other non-binary people do. i like my boobs. but, when i think about the "purpose" of them; when i imagine lactating and liquid oozing out of them, i want to saw them off with a chainsaw. i don't necessarily mind having a uterus, despite the obvious inconveniences, but the thought of getting pregnant and seeing my body change and stretch and grow in that way makes me want to book the next possible appointment to get my tubes tied. motherhood is something so deeply associated with womanhood. i don't mind my body - i love my body! - because i don't necessarily consider it a "woman's" body. it's just MY body. but, when i think about the so-called "purpose" that my body is meant to serve (because, let's face it, even in 2021 female bodies are still viewed as baby pumping machines), i feel such a deep disassociation with my own flesh and blood that i become hyperaware of every molecule in my body and want to tear it apart. when i watched this film, i felt seen in that way. i don't want to spoil anything, but there's imagery here that was so deeply disturbing but also deeply relatable to the point where it felt liberating to be watching something so grotesque.
body horror has always fascinated me for reasons i couldn't quite put my finger on until now. my experience with gender is a beautifully grotesque thing. the gore in titane is not just violence for the sake of violence, but it serves a greater, more existential purpose. it's able to personify the complications of gender identity and gender roles - something so truly unexplainable - and allows you to feel that visceral confusion, disgust, and beauty. titane is not a feel bad movie. it's not fucked up to the point of no return like some body horror or torture porn can be. it's human. it's our flesh and blood. ducournau deconstructs that, tearing us apart inch by inch, until there's nothing left but metal.