Back in 2017, writer-director Julia Ducournau blew everyone away with bold, unique and unforgettable coming-of-age horror Raw.
Ever since, the wait has been on to see what she would do next and if it could possibly live up to her debut. The fear when there's such a build-up is that whatever comes would never hit those heights, but Titane laughs in the face of expectations as Ducournau delivers another fresh and disturbing vision.
It's a cliché, yet Titane really is a movie that you should experience knowing as little as possible. Even if you think you know what it's going to be after those provocative teaser images of a woman writhing on a car, you don't.
So it really is best to go in with a blank slate, other than the knowledge that you can expect another original and twisted horror movie, culminating in a truly wild ending. We're not going to spoil anything here and if you want to know more you can safely read on, but if it already sounds like your dark cup of tea, then go and see Titane in UK cinemas and stop reading now.
During her childhood, Alexia (Agathe Rousselle) was in a car accident and suffered a major skull injury, leading to a titanium plate being fitted in her head. Several years later, she's working as a dancer at a car show when a fan gets a bit too close following her after the performance.
He finds out that this was not the best thing to do when she brutally kills him with her metal hairpin. It appears that Alexia is linked to a number of unexplained crimes in the area, and we think we then have Titane locked: it's a serial-killer horror where the killer is the protagonist like, say, Maniac.
Only that's not what the movie is going for. After an attempted murder goes wrong in darkly funny fashion, Alexia finds her life crossed over with Vincent (Vincent Landon). He's a steroid-addicted fire chief whose son has been missing for a decade, but Alexia could prove to be the person he's been looking for all along.
We could explain what exactly leads to Alexia and Vincent meeting, but like we mentioned before, the journey of discovery is part of the Titane experience. It's something that initially you'll feel apprehensive over, before Ducournau's exceptional storytelling turns into something more tender and human than you'd expect.
As much as Titane turns out to be unexpectedly sweet and moving at times, Ducournau does not hold back on the horror. There are sequences in the opening act that even hardened horror fans (such as your writer here) will find tough to watch, including one unique use of a stool.
These moments take a backseat when the movie shifts gears to Alexia and Vincent's unique connection. It doesn't make the movie any easier to watch, though, as Alexia starts to experience a transformation that's too messed up to spoil here. Everything leads up to a magnificent final sequence that is by turns horrifying and heartwrenching, an ending that won't be forgotten any time soon.
Does it all quite make sense in the end? Not really, but you surrender yourself to the experience as Titane is impossible to forget.
It's a singular movie that's powered by two fantastic performances from Agathe Rousselle and Vincent Landon. As good as the latter is, it's remarkable how brilliant Rousselle is in her first movie role with a largely wordless performance.
When it premiered at Cannes earlier this year, Titane won the festival's top prize, the Palme d'Or, and has since been chosen by France as their official Oscars entry. You can absolutely see why as the minute the credits start to roll, you'll want to give it all the awards too.
Titane is out now in UK cinemas.
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