Filmmaker Julia Ducournau Takes us on one Unrelentingly Disturbingly Unique but Ultimately Heartfelt Ride
DIRECTED BY JULIA DUCOURNAU/FRENCH/2021
BLU-RAY STREET DATE: JANUARY 18, 2022/DISTRIBUTION SOLUTIONS
Despite an outpouring of appreciation, and even a momentary outcry for a Best Picture Academy Award nomination, filmmaker Julia Ducournau’s Titane is nowhere to be found amid the 2022 Oscar nominations. Realistically, for anyone who’s ever seen Titane– or for that matter, a list of Oscar nominees- should not be surprised by the omission. Ducournau’s French-language fuel-injected body horror is both as nightmarishly strange, as wildly unpredictable, and as wincingly unpleasant as anyone says.
Even those understandably squeamish by the dead-serious turns that Titane takes cannot deny that lead actor Agathe Rousselle gives an unforgettably bold performance. It’s the level of deep commitment that most high concept genre filmmakers can only dream about. Horror filmmaker and ZekeFilm contributor Paul Hibbard has this to say about Titane…
For the first act, I had some trouble putting my finger on what Julia Ducournau was interested in with making Titane. Because of her past Cronenbergian influences (see: her feature debut, Raw) and the story of Titane being of a woman impregnated by a car, I just assumed this was her take on Crash. Yet the attraction to motor vehicles is both overexplained and underdeveloped. She doesn’t have the fascination with fetishism that Cronenberg has, and the car pregnancy is more on the periphery of the story and more to drive in the themes, rather than to be about it.
When Alexia (Agathe Rousselle) kills someone in self-defense, it seems to open up a murderous lust inside her. This seemed to be theme moving forward, except three problems were presented 1) That’s already territory Ducournau has explored in Raw, so it felt like a retread. 2) In every way I could imagine the car pregnancy didn’t tie into it and 3) We later learn info that negates this.
For me, Titane doesn’t take off ‘til another character enters the picture. Then I felt what she was ultimately going for gets going and I connected with the film.
I’ll keep it super vague to avoid spoilers, but with such an outlandish premise of the film, the emotions remain pretty grounded. Titane, for all you hear, is about the yin and yang of taking life versus giving or saving life. It’s about humans as machines and how we can be used to help others, in a dire way that machinery has made our lives better. And ultimately, it’s about a simple story of broken people fixing each other (it’s probably generous just calling these two broken), and even the most bastardized members of society can be all you need and accepting people as who they are is what’s most important. It’s in the end, it’s a rather sweet story, just with a lot of killing and car-fucking thrown in.
– Paul Hibbard
Neon, the film’s distributor, has now released Titane to Blu-ray. There isn’t much in the way of bonus features, although we do get the professionally captured live Q&A session from when the film screened at the New York Film Festival. Participants include Ducournau as well as actors Vincent Lindon and Agathe Rousselle. As far as festival Q&As that are ported to disc go, this one is considerably less painful to get through than most. And considering the film that it’s in service of, the irony of that is not lost! Where the Blu-ray truly shines is in the A/V department, serving up an immersive experience that earns its place on collector’s shelves… right alongside of those Cronenberg classics. Adventurous cinephiles forever on the prowl for something new and different won’t want to miss this insane yet weird and eventually, heartfelt ride.