Director Julia Ducournau is a singular and extraordinary voice in modern cinema. Awards mean nothing but TITANE is 2021’s Palme d’Or winner and it couldn’t be more deserving.
To review a film, I will view it twice. Three times if I still can’t gather my final thoughts. I will dedicate this first couple of paragraphs to my thoughts after my first viewing. So I will return to this review after I’ve finished the movie…Oh. My. God. How can I ever go to sleep after this? When I say I have never experienced a film like this, I truly mean cinema as an art form has been redefined.
Julia! Julia, what have you done to me?! Do I want to watch this movie again? Can I handle it again? Aside from my general thoughts being muddled with “movie of the year!” statements, you can’t tell me “TITANE” would make a pretty amazing Pixar film.
Before going into the film, I did two things. 1. I read up on all the people that fainted and vomited at Cannes. And 2. I rewatched “Raw” (2016), another thrilling and grisly vision from Writer/Director Julia Ducournau. You can say these things were done in preparation for “TITANE”. But let me just say, YOU CANNOT PREPARE FOR WHAT THIS FILM HOLDS.
An article told me not to read anything about the film’s story. I didn’t, and I suggest you do the same. I’d like to think Julia Ducourneau would do so as well. It’s shockingly gruesome, it’s brilliantly uplifting, it has a unique and deranged sense of humor. It’s perfect for the whole family! No, please do not watch this with your family. I just texted my dad not to watch the film. He’d have a seizure. If you watch it with your Grandma and she keels over, I will not be held responsible.
If you want to avoid my incoherent and disorganized initial thoughts on “TITANE” BEGIN READING HERE.
So what makes “TITANE” a once in millennium film? The answer lies within the center, Julia Ducournau. The film has countless moving parts that conflict and interact in such consequential courses of action, and Ducournau navigates them with such prestige. The use of close-ups, the moments of introspective silence, the exploding gore, all come together to reinforce each other. It all sums up to understanding our characters and our flowing narrative. It’s a bold and astonishing vision that’s bound to have a flawed execution, but Ducournau beats those expectations. Granted, it leaves some important narrative points unsaid.
And those woes will prove more significant to modern film-goers, but “TITANE” is an absolute filmmaking achievement that doesn’t rely completely on the strength of its mind-blowing script. The film’s originality is unparalleled in a year full of reboots (The Suicide Squad), reimaginings (The Green Knight), and a few extraordinary works of art (The Boss Baby: Family Business *chef’s kiss*). Do you think you know what it’s about? You don’t. I found it funny how even IMDB doesn’t have a grip on what it’s about. “Following a series of unexplained crimes, a father is reunited with the son who has been missing for 10 years.” Yes, but not necessarily true.
“TITANE” does not shy away from its violence at all. It almost comes off as humorous. The dial was constantly being turned up just to see how we would react. Ducournau uncompromisingly puts us in every scene and every display of shocking gore. Is this a pitfall? Usually, excessive violence would remove audiences from the story and their primary memory of the film would be the principal figure biting a nipple ring off. But the violence is essential. It elevates every aspect of the film. Every scene is approached with a certain level of humor and/or emotionality that it’s hard to just write it off as just “bloody murder.”
It intensifies situations to a boiling point, filling us with absolute dread. It adds to how deranged our main character is. And most importantly, it’s hard to watch. Ducournau adds onto her debut, “Raw” (which was especially unhinged), with much more flair and style. I usually use the word “stylistic” to describe a Matthew Vaughan film that was a little shinier than usual. Calling “TITANE” “stylistic” or “stylish” doesn’t feel right. The film has this neverending charm and personality making its look and atmosphere one of a kind.
The two performances at the center of the film are masterclasses in the craft of acting. Vincent Lindon is an established and seasoned talent, but Agathe Rousselle is a fresh force that demands her presence. She has practically 13 lines of dialogue and she was able to navigate emotion effortlessly with facial expressions and bursts of violence. She inhabited silent homicidal tendencies with such realism, she gave Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh a run for his money.
Lindon on the other hand was a purely empathetic character that brought light to the film’s demented atmosphere. The final scene was a culmination of what had been boiling the whole movie and Lindon’s final scene was the climax that pushed the film into fulfillment. It was his vulnerability and his unrestricted emotion that was a perfect mirror to Rousselle’s silent insanity.
I did my best to keep this piece absolutely spoiler-free because I truly believe every aspect of this film should be left unsaid and instead, experienced. “TITANE” is an off-the-wall experience that begs brilliance beyond the surface of blood. We are well into the very end of September and I am confident in my saying the film is the best thing to come out this year. Julia Ducournau proves she is a master at work in the realm of cinema. I cannot wait to see her next masterpiece.
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