With TITANE, Julia Ducournau signs her masterpiece. A remarkable masterpiece of genre, blessed with the award of the Palme d’Or in Cannes on July 17, 2021.
Serious was not really much … If not a nice genre film which had the merit to kick in the anthill. From then on, the French-speaking fear seemed to awaken from a deep sleep. Or, at least, she finally found an author’s vision. A leg, a sense of framing, a work of sound. Ducourneau was born on festival stages as a major artist – even as a priestess of the French genre. We were waiting for him at the turn. TITANIUM was more than inspiring. When suddenly he got the Palme d’Or. Would we certainly touch the sublime? There where Serious laid the groundwork, TITANIUM reiterates and confirms the miracle.
For sure the body obsesses Ducournau. By the flesh in Serious, by its singularity in TITANIUM. Victim of a car accident when she was not yet a child, Alexia finds herself equipped with a titanium plate to reshape her skull. From then on, the metal mingles with his being. It becomes part of it. Besides the apparent scar of his heroine, Ducournau tirelessly suggests the presence of this foreign body, through elements as subtle as sound. From her fingernails on the earthenware of the washbasin, through the impact of her teeth on her peak with a bun, to the hammered and repeated knocks on a sheet metal door … Alexia is re-styling herself in total silence, where you can make out clearly these noises, with a remarkably metallic echo.
Metal is part of his body, of his own identity. However, this deep connection remains unspeakable. Hence the incomprehension. Of his closest family, in particular. And where, perhaps, this irrepressible need to manifest your femininity through the profession of gogo-dancer. And Ducournau films her half-naked dancer, in a lap dance feline, on the hood of a Cadillac with a body soberly covered in flames. Feminine, the body is then more feminine than ever. And is woven in filigree a metaphor of desire borrowed directly from Carpenter. This, in a more than obvious tribute to the famous adaptation of Christine.
Horrific queer thriller
References, TITANIUM full of them. TO Carpenter, but also to David Cronenberg. As much in relation to the automobile – which evokes us Crash without the slightest doubt -, only by a common obsession for the flesh, the tissues and the deformation of the body. This dancer’s body, soon groomed and forced into a forced masculinity. And this, in a military universe, deeply macho and misogynist. A universe embodied by a Vincent lindon aging, which we no longer expected to see so captivating, beautiful and tortured on the screen. The feminine, masculine, even neutral gender will never cease to question us throughout the film. Forced to admit that in France we will have rarely made a thriller also horrific queer. Even more by its evocation of filial love: an absolute which never finds a reason.
TITANIUM wants to be radical in his exploration of the body – living, as if dying. He spares no image, no sound of flesh, mouth, regurgitation. In favor of a real statement, far from any unnecessary provocation. Come on, on La Croisette, we were outraged. Like the day after a Twin Peaks: Fire walk with me in 1992 or a Irreversible in 2002. Except that, this time, the shock film of the year was not presented out of competition. He was competing. And he won the Palme. Where so many others could only enjoy a spotlight, Julia ducournau got recognition from Cannes. A recognition rarely given to genre directors. For a remarkable work. In its aestheticism, as in its end-to-end writing and assumed as such. As such, La Palme was declared “unique”. Now, maybe it was just about time …
• Original title : Titanium
• Realization : Julia ducournau
• Scenario: Julia ducournau
• Main actors : Vincent Lindon, Agathe Rousselle, Garance Marillier
• Release date : July 14, 2021
• Duration : 1h48min