(Cinemas) TITANE is the second feature from Julia Ducournau, who previously wrote and directed the sisterly cannibal tale RAW (2016), and while RAW was exquisitely executed, TITANE is a masterclass in controlled filmmaking.
I won’t describe the plot — I personally don’t believe in spoilers, but while TITANE is deadly serious (although it does have a number of quality laughs), it’s also an extremely wild ride that I think is best viewed without knowledge of a plot summary — but I will give two very sparse character sketches of the two protagonists: 1) Alexia (newcomer Agathe Rousselle, who plays this role like a seasoned pro) is a 32-year-old dancer who had a skull injury when she was young and still lives with her parents. 2) Vincent (Vincent Lindon) is the captain of a large firefighter group whose young son went missing a number of years ago.
What Ducournau does with TITANE is nothing less than astounding. You may see something onscreen or hear something that has you scratching your head, wondering why that was there, and a few minutes later, it becomes very aware in a way that makes you feel like the film respects you, as opposed to the film thinking it’s so clever.
It’s also surprisingly concise — apart from a few indulgent (with a reason) scenes, the film has very little fat. While at first that facet is a bit jarring, it creates a tempo that unnerves.
It’s impossible to discuss the film without noting how difficult it can be to watch, for a litany of reasons. I can’t remember the last time I so extensively averted my eyes from watching a film. However, those moments are not exploitative — they are meant to be uncomfortable, they are there for a reason. I simply felt that I was able to glean that reason by listening, instead of watching.
This is a work that film scholars will inevitably be discussing for some time to come, for better or for worse — frankly I’m still unpacking the film — but it is definitely memorable.
The trailer is properly enigmatic, but maybe don’t watch it if you’re going to see it within the next few days. (Slightly NSFW):