[First Look] CANNES’21: ‘Titane’ is a Disturbingly Good Palme d’Or Winner

A woman  lies on the bonnet of a car, her back arched towards the celings, legs spread in a provocative manner. She is dressed in underwear and neon yellow fishnets. The car is covered in flames. People in the background are watching, as the spotlights are focused on hers.
Still of Titane

Titane is the new film by the bright French director Julia Ducournau, equally as ‘raw’ as her previous film. Titane is not the typical winning film for the Cannes Film Festival as it is very brutal and disturbing in much of its subject matter. Is it equally good as the previous Cannes winning films despite it’s shocking nature?

The film follows Alexia (Agathe Rousselle), a young woman with a passion for cars. After getting into an accident in her mom’s car a metal plate is inserted in her head. Years later, now an adult, Alexia works as an erotic dancer in a car showroom. One night after being chased by an obsessed fan she starts to become exceptionally violent.

At the same time she erotically expresses herself with the car she’s usually dancing on and something unbelievable happens. Violence and madness dominate her thinking and secrecy becomes her new reality. Agathe Rousselle gives a masterful performance in the lead, and one of the best of the year so far. Her androgynous look gave her the advantage of gender fluidity and ambiguity, and brings a spark of vitality to the character.

The music was also hauntingly beautiful, moving easily from more modern, experimental sounds to The Zombies. It perfectly falls into place, really helping to set the mood and pace of the film, which lacks any dull moments as the script filled with action from start to finish.

Titane is indeed an obscure, difficult film but behind the disturbing imagery there is a much deeper message laying underneath. Many of the comments that surrounded the film after it’s Cannes focused on discussing the merits of the film, whether it has something interesting to say. Like Raw this is one more piece of work worth watching as it is not only a film but an experience. It is a unique form of expression and art, and one that will suit those looking for a dark and brutal film that cuts through the usual film festival fare.

By Sofia Agalioti

Sofia is pursuing Cinema studies in the American College of Greece. She has volunteered on five film festival jury, has made three short films and has taken part in a Creative Ideas Pitching Lab. She has also given a masterclass about the meaning of colour in film.

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