On Oct. 5, my brother and I drove to the Prytania Theater at Canal Place in New Orleans to see “Titane” by Julia Ducournau. Before going in, I had no prior knowledge of what it was about, who was in it or why it sparked so much buzz at the 74th annual Cannes Film Festival and took home the Palme d’Or, the grand prize of the festival.
I had seen a singular trailer four months beforehand, but I couldn’t remember any of it. All I really had to go off what it was about was the entrancing poster.
There was probably nothing that could have prepared me for it.
When the credits for “Titane” rolled, I was flabbergasted and immensely unsettled. Walking my car, I had no idea what to think or how to feel.
All I knew for sure is that Julia Ducournau’s “Titane” completely reignited my passion for film and why I love the movies so much. By evoking many of the erotic, masochistic themes of David Cronenberg’s “Crash,” Ducuornau’s sophomore feature is an impeccable mixture of motor oil, fire and flesh that is searing in its visceral body horror, but also astonishingly heartwarming in its themes of love and found family.
I have no regrets saying that “Titane” is the best film of the year. It feels virtually impossible to top its demented vision, provocation and ultraviolence. This film is a twisted shocker that explores gender fluidity, toxic masculinity, sexual freedom, and the metallic taste of fetishization.
“Titane” is bold, brazen and so bonkers.
In theory, this film should not work at all because of the surrealist, midnight movie plotline, but you’d be surprised by how perfectly crafted it is. It’s startling and quite sudden in its storytelling, but “Titane” has a mind of its own. Right from the start, the film fires on all cylinders, beginning with a rendition of “Wayfaring Stranger” and a shocking cold opener that visually recommends you wear a seat belt for the bloody, metallic ride it takes you on.
The music choices and score by Jim Williams are sublime in every scene. This film also features the best and most hilarious usage of the Macarena I have ever seen. The cinematography is inherently wicked, showcasing all the glory of the eye candy dance sequences and cover-your-eyes body horror. It’s bloody disgusting, but I could not take my eyes off of it, despite being some of the most disturbing imagery I have ever witnessed.
Newcomer Agathe Rouselle and Vincent Lindon were outstanding as the two leads, completely embodying their characters with nuance, repulsiveness and empathy. For a first-time actor, Rouselle knocked it out of the park. She and Lindon’s characters bounce off of each other perfectly through their innate codependency and yearning for affection. They truly give this story a heart.
Talk about one hell of a final shot though that rivals the ending for Ducournau’s last film, “Raw!” It will forever be ingrained in my head.
As the credits rolled, my brother and I sat silently, in awe, as Jim Williams’s grungy rendition of “Sarabande” assaulted us from the sound system. Neither of us could move. We had no idea what to do or say, but we both experienced a cinematic treat I’ll never forget and one I want to witness again as soon as possible.
I couldn't have prepared for this symphony of insanity. And neither can you.