Titane (2021)

Director: Julia Ducournau

Running Time: 108 Minutes

Certificate: 18

Starring: Agathe Rousselle, Vincent Lindon, Garance Marillier, Laïs Salameh, Myriem Akheddiou, Bertrand Bonello

In 2017, Julia Ducournau made an impressive feature debut with Raw, a coming-of-age tale which looked at self-identity by way of cannibalism. Her follow-up equally delivers relatable ideas through extraordinary circumstances, touching upon family, identity, and love through gnarly kills and autoeroticism.

Following a car-crash as a child, Alexia (Agathe Rousselle) lives with a titanium plate surgically fused to her skull. The experience irrevocably changed her relationship with cars, loving them in ways which would make the Fast & Furious crew blush. Working as a car model, she embarks on a wild and unpredictable journey.

There's a grand blending of ideas evidenced here, as the distinct halves could each power a film on their own while together making a uniquely original and captivating whole. Fantastical ideas blend with everyday nightmares, as the body horror pairs alongside men committing harassment. Where Ducournau excels is realistic pains, such as a wince-inducing moment where hair gets caught on a piercing, although that's feel-good compared to a skin-crawling bathroom scene. Amidst these uncomfortable moments is a warm heart, telling a story of lost souls finding various forms of love.

Rousselle exceptionally brings Alexia alive, a cold and distant person with the exception of her relationship with cars. These intense feelings are captured through an early dance scene, as her body moves all over the car to memorably convey her vehicular passion. Her path crosses with Vincent Lindon's firefighter Captain, intent on easing the grief which haunts him. Exemplary performances bring these characters alive, as they share such pain while opening up to each other and finding solace.

It becomes touching to see how they show their feelings, although the largest things are said through the performances alone. It becomes key what these characters understand yet leave unsaid, as knowing looks and actions speak volumes. Within this gorgeously shot film with a terrific soundtrack, the heartwarming connections depicted alongside unflinching brutality make for a magnificent concoction, and cements Ducournau as one of the most fiercely original minds working today.

Titane is available on Digital Platforms now