Titane Review


PLOT: A female serial killer is impregnated by a car (yes, seriously). On the run from the cops, she poses as the long-lost son of a troubled fireman (Vincent Lindon), who’s desperate to believe his now-grown child has returned home.

REVIEW: Funny story – the other day I was on the phone with my father, who enjoys movies from France. I mentioned I’d seen this movie because it stars an actor he likes, Vincent Lindon. He asked me what it was about, and I said, “well, dad, it’s about a woman who gets impregnated by a car.” On the other end, there was silence as my father waited for a beat and asked: “wow, what will they think of next?” Indeed, I saw things in Julia Ducournau’s Titane that I’ve never seen before, which is a true testament to the film’s originality. It certainly lives up to the hype, which has called it the most “f**ked up movie ever to win the Palme d’Or.”

Titane is Ducournau’s follow-up to her acclaimed debut, Raw, and continues her fascination with the body horror genre. She’s probably the best director to tackle this genre since David Cronenberg (with the film paying heavy homage to Crash) but done in a deliberately stylized fashion. Whereas Cronenberg is known for shooting his movies in an often deliberately plain way, Ducournau has made Titane a highly stylized, almost Michael Mann-styled genre exercise. As a result, it’s one of the most exciting and original films to come along in years.


Defying easy categorization, Titane will not be for everyone. Ducournau has no interest in being politically correct, with her protagonist, Alexia (Agathe Rousselle), a truly loathsome character. A childhood car accident left her scarred from the titanium plate inserted into her head, but rather than cover it up; she proudly displays it. She works as an exotic dancer, gyrating and stripping at car shows, even though she’s the daughter of a wealthy gynecologist. She’s also a killer, prone to stabbing people through the eardrum with the knitting needle she carries in her hair.

This is a tour da force for Rouselle, with her delivering an incredible physical performance throughout. One of the most remarkable things about the film is that despite everything, you slowly start to sympathize with Alexia as the film goes on. She’s a murderer who kills several innocent people in an early gruesome scene. Still, Ducournau’s such a good director that she’s able to manipulate your sympathies as the film goes on slyly. Early on, Alexia is forced to go on the run, and improbably she decides to pose as a now-grown lost child, whose father is a fire chief, played by French star Vincent Lindon.

titane review

He’s our second lead, and his performance is a knockout. His character, Vincent, is hyper-macho and leads his fire brigade like a military unit. The guys love him, but at sixty years old, his physical prowess is fading. He injects himself with steroids every night, and while still jacked (Lindon got into fantastic shape for this), he can’t quite push himself like he used to. This is driven home by a scene where he desperately tries to do a pull-up over and over again but can’t quite make it up to the bar.

The two are both terrible and, surprisingly, great for each other with each humanizing the other to some degree. Lindon and Rouselle have excellent chemistry, with the latter forced to almost give a silent performance lest she give away the ruse that she’s not the man’s lost child, but a very pregnant woman. This isn’t helped by the fact that her abdomen is more and more distended everyday, with titanium sticking out through rips in her skin.

Ducournau’s use of music is excellent, with the relationship between Alexia and Vincent bookended by two dances they do with each other. The first is aggressive and set to The Zombies’ “She’s Not There,” before a more loving one to Future Islands’ song “Light House.” Technically, the whole film is impeccable, but I imagine it’ll rub some people the wrong way. The fact is, it’s a very provocative piece of work. If you’re lured in by the subject matter, I must warn you; this isn’t exploitation or cheese. It’s an art film, in the same way I’d classify something by Cronenberg or another master of the genre. It’s for adventurous moviegoers only, but I promise you – you’ll see things in this you haven’t seen before.




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About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.