Review: Unforgettable 'Titane' is one wild and borderline hallucinogenic ride
Courtesy of NEON
Writer-director Julia Docournau’s “Titane” isn’t so much a movie you watch, but experience with every fiber of your being. An audacious peak under the hood of toxic masculinity, queerness, and sexual identity all lumped into one twisted package, “Titane” doesn’t have all the answers, but tries to stimulate a response. And what an insane, borderline hallucinogenic response it is. Docournau channels a massive train of thought as she throws one gonzo sequence after another in the opening minutes. She’s guiding us down a noteworthy mediation, plunging into the abyss of uncertainty while keeping the pace taunt and relentless.
Whether good or bad, “Titane” will evoke feelings and reactions even if you can’t describe them. The picture follows an exotic dancer named Alexia (Agathe Rosselle) who has a history with automobiles and enjoys twerking atop the hottest makes and models. She’s also an impulsive murderer who sticks her prey with a hair needle and, er, has sex with cars. Not since David Cronerberg’s “Crash” has autoeroticism been this heavily featured. In a demented metaphor on the female body, Alexia gets pregnant from these late night vehicular bang sessions.
Stay with me.
Fresh off its Palm d’Or from Cannes, “Titane” seldomly loses its edge, but there’s a major tonal shift midway through when Alexia, for a variety of reasons, decides to hide her female physique and pose as a young boy who's been missing for 20 years. Vincent Lindon plays the father of that boy and though he goes along with it at first, it’s tough to ascertain if he knows it’s a set-up or just accepting Alexia because the grief overwhelms him. To his credit, Lindon plays the aching father figure with a dignified sense of purpose and soothing reliability. Here’s a film that features motor oil leaking from Alexia’s breasts and a barstool getting shoved down someone’s throat, and still manages to capture wholesome content. Deep down, it’s a film about reconnecting with our loved ones and mending broken pasts.
A French production, “Titane” is worthy of the discourse bound to come from unsuspecting patrons who stumble upon the movie because they heard “it’s the one where she bangs a car!” But “Titane” is more than just a quickie. It’s batshit crazy, Rosselle is absolutely phenomenal, and Docournau never lets her foot off the gas. All you can really do? Buckle up and enjoy the ride.
TITANE is now playing in theaters.