Electrifying in Competition: Titane

Titane, 2021 © Carole Bethuel


Here comes a film to send shock waves down the Croisette. Titane, the second feature film by Julia Ducournau, is shrouded in mystery in the lead-up to its screening in Competition. An intriguing poster, a colourful trailer, and a thought-provoking synopsis: "After a series of unexplained crimes, a father finds the son who disappeared ten years earlier. Titane, the French for titanium, is a highly heat- and corrosion-resistant metal that forms rock-solid bonds...".

Since her early shorts, Julia Ducournau has been hard at work making films, and body horrors more specifically. Ever since Junior (her 2011 short), the director has had a soft spot for prosthetics, special effects, and bodily mutations, and having blurred genres in Grave (her gory 2016 cannibal drama woven through with glimmers of humour), she continues this exploration with Titane.

This film consolidates Julia Ducournau's uniqueness on the French film scene. The director infuses her palette of registers with a dash of science-fiction – with a twist. The use of colour here is striking, almost saturated in its itensity, as if to juxtapose with the darkness of of the narrative. Titane tackles violence "as the start of something, as a shaking of foundations that have been in place for too long," explains the filmmaker. It also examines the theme of lineage and love, or more precisely "a tale of how love is born"

For this film, Julia Ducournau wrote a tailored role specifically for Vincent Lindon. The latter saw Grave and said he wanted to work with her. Titane required him to spend a year weight-lifting before the film was shot. The director wanted to contrast him with an unknown, a face onto which no preconceptions might be projected, and chose Agathe Rousselle for the task. Garance Marillier, an actor who has had a key hand in Julia Ducournau's rise to success, completes the line-up.