Spoilers will not take the wheel.
Disturbing films either have a very humane story to tell or they at their core are just pushing your buttons. I’d like to think the better films belong to the first category. I think this one does as well, but it does push boundaries so it might be up to the viewer. Although you might argue that you could tell a story without testing your audience, some might argue it won’t have the same effect. I remain unconvinced this is a horror film, but it can play the part.
Titane (2021) was directed by Julia Ducournau. A dancer named Alexia (Agathe Rousselle), who has a skull metal plate as a result of a car accident, participates in a car show. A father named Vincent (Vincent Lindon) finds his son Adrien a long time after losing him. Alexia/Adrien and Vincent need each other, although they might not be whom the other person thinks they need.
The film starts with a depiction of a troubled personality, seeking affection and sexual satisfaction but unable to make a human connection. Eventually this turns into violence and murder. Our killer/victim Alexia also seems to be facing an unexplained and esoteric pregnancy. Meanwhile, Vincent is more than ready to accept Alexia/Adrien as his long lost son. The aspects of fantasy and body horror give way to a human connection, one that both characters desperately need but still have learn how to navigate.
This film contains a heavy dose of shock and depictions of bodily trauma, but the characters were engaging enough to keep me invested in the outcome. The film doesn’t shy from sex and nudity, which should really not be a factor neither positive nor negative. That being said, once the body horror element is introduced the tone can feel a bit confusing until you realize the true passenger of this vehicle is still the human element. The performance of Agathe Rousselle as Adrien/Vincent is mesmerizing, but it was Vincent Lindon’s portrait of a grief-stricken parent that sold me.
Carefully heavily recommended. Once the full impact of its core drama starts, it comes via disturbing images that will turn off the casual viewer. The beginning of the film starts as what feels like sexually charged crime feature, later becoming almost a slasher horror film, and finally turning into something of a family drama (not a family film by any extent of the imagination) but retaining elements of body horror. This will more of a summary of parts rather than an accurate description, but most audiences will have to consider shock as the entrance fee. For the right audience, it will be worth a watch but it’s definitely not an easy one.
That will do for now.