Home Entertainment Titane review – Agathe Rousselle is extraordinary in Palme d’Or-winning body horror

Titane review – Agathe Rousselle is extraordinary in Palme d’Or-winning body horror

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Back within the mid-90s, David Cronenberg’s Crash – a movie about auto-eroticism tailored from JG Ballard’s 1973 novel – grew to become a scandalous Cannes pageant trigger celebre when jury president Francis Ford Coppola reportedly campaigned towards it successful the Palme d’Or (as a substitute, it acquired a “particular jury prize”). Right here within the UK, the Night Normal labelled Crash “past the bounds of depravity”, whereas the Each day Mail referred to as for a ban – a name answered inside the hallowed borough of Westminster. How scrumptious, then, {that a} quarter of a century later, the French film-maker Julia Ducournau – who made a Cannes splash along with her 2016 function debut, Raw ought to take the Palme d’Or with a movie that owes a putting debt to Cronenberg’s body-horror again catalogue on the whole, and Crash specifically.

As with all full-blooded style motion pictures, there’s little mileage in describing Titane when it comes to plot. Like Cronenberg’s The Brood, that is an grownup fairytale (rated 18 for “sturdy violence, horror, intercourse”) about love, rage and loneliness, that operates on a visceral stage, using outlandish bodily metaphors to explain down-to-earth emotional truths. Suffice to say that the story centres on Alexia (the exceptional Agathe Rousselle), a younger lady with titanium plates in her head after a automobile accident as a baby. It’s a trauma (her father’s fault?) to which she compulsively returns, incomes a dwelling as an unique dancer at automobile exhibits, simulating erotic encounters with metallic and glass.

There’s a car-crash high quality to her relationships too – turbocharged encounters with women and men alike that breathe new that means into the phrase la petite mort. Solely a fantastical bump-and-grind with an car gives an emotional gear change, reaching the ecstatic highs that Alexia lacks elsewhere.

Up to now, so twisted. However after an orgy of carnage, Alexia must disappear. So she cuts her hair, breaks her nostril, binds her breasts and unusually distended abdomen, torches her house, and adopts the id of Adrien, who disappeared as a younger boy a few years in the past. There are narrative echoes of movies equivalent to Daniel Vigne’s The Return of Martin Guerre (1982) or Clint Eastwood’s Changeling (2008) in what follows, as bereaved fireplace chief Vincent (a transformative flip from Vincent Lindon) merely accepts this unspeaking stranger as his son, and insists that his colleagues do the identical. “Anybody hurts you, I’ll kill ’em,” he tells “Adrien”. “Even when it’s me. I’d kill myself, I swear.”

Ducournau has described Titane as an try to speak about love with out phrases, so it’s vital that dance performs an essential position. From the commodified exhibition of Alexia’s car-show routine to the tragicomic sight of Vincent attempting to win Adrien’s confidence by flailing round to the Zombies hit She’s Not There (title pun certainly supposed), motion and physicality communicate volumes.

Certainly, for all its onscreen metamorphoses and extreme-cinema revelations, it’s the sight of Rousselle androgynously gyrating to Wayfaring Stranger that provides the movie’s most startling second – taking us proper again to the opening scene, reminding us simply how far we have now travelled.

There’s a neat symmetry between the altering our bodies of Alexia and Vincent, each of whom habitually stare upon their very own reflections as they battle to manage their corporeal selves. Whereas Alexia wraps her rebellious flesh in bandages, Vincent self-medicates with injections, raging towards previous age. Each inhabit our bodies that refuse to behave; each have intense emotional wants they can’t comprise.

It’s simple to turn into dazzled by the headline-grabbing car-sex set items and Tetsuo-model flesh-and-metal mutations of Titane. But not like Zoé Wittock’s 2020 gem Jumbo, for instance, wherein Noémie Merlant has a passionate relationship with a fairground experience, that is not a movie about “mechanophilia”. Quite the opposite, it’s a fable that makes use of the lexicon of horror (serial killings, bodily eruptions, transposed identities) to get underneath the pores and skin of unconditional love – simply as Uncooked used cannibalism to debate household bonds and coming-of-age traumas.

Some will probably be repelled, many will probably be bamboozled. However for these with an urge for food for cinema that will get you within the intestine, Ducournau delivers the products, fantastically aided by Uncooked cinematographer Ruben Impens’s glowing visuals, all underpinned by a soundscape that throbs and groans like a beating celluloid coronary heart.

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