I like fluffy, fun films that cast worries aside and fill me up with a re-energised take on the world. My boyfriend loves movies that make daisies droop. So really, this is all my fault. Because when he asked to go see 'Titane,' I should have known what I'd be in for. My scepticism should have particularly kicked in when he told me I wasn't allowed to read up on it, search the plot, or know anything about it. Had I done that - I might have become aware that this was the film notorious for the 13 people fainting spree at its Aussie premiere in Sydney. But noooooo - I went in with my happy little box of popcorn and drink, not even knowing that it was in French! Needless to say, I've never said "I hate you" more times in a 108-minute sitting. Now all this business about fainting, violence, the body horror genre, and me preferring sunshiney movies does not serve to detract from the fact that this was a good film. It's outlandish and gruesome in some parts, yes. And when I say violent, it's more Tarantino than even Tarantino could get.
What can really be appreciated about this film is its nuance. How can someone find such a niche tone to make violence funny? More so, how can a film in that moment make me as an audience member have a moral argument with myself about laughing? The cinema was almost palpable with a charge of people all thinking the same thing: "are we allowed to laugh right now?" And there were some moments where we just couldn't help ourselves and lost it. Written and directed by Julia Ducournau, this is really a powerful movie, and a testament to Ducournau's ability to direct a good performance - especially given it was lead actor, Agathe Rousselle's debut role. Her performance is the cornerstone of this film. You are entrapped with her for the entire film. I was in awe of Rousselle's delivery, physical awareness, subtlety, emotion, and comedy.
Spoilers to follow - so if, like me, you would rather see this film with no understanding of what's to come, please skip the next paragraph.
The film follows the story of young woman Alexia, who after having sex with a car falls pregnant. She is herself a serial killer, and after a murder gone wrong is forced to go into hiding. After problem-solving her future, she changes herself to look like a missing boy and goes to live with the boy's father, who thinks he has finally found his long-lost son. This seems like a great plan, as long as the dad doesn't discover his long-lost son is a wanted serial killer, pregnant with the child of a car. If that synopsis doesn't give you some insight into what a mindfuck this movie is, I don't know what will.
I've referred to the nuanced humour within the film above, which only adds to the intelligence of the pacing and tone of this movie. Where some moments are intense and suspenseful, the film conducts a full flip on you, transitioning masterfully into a new mood and dimension of the character. It's one of those rare narratives where you really can't tell where this film is going to go.
The film deserves a certain honour for what it puts you through. And critics are correct, it does put you through the works. Director Paul Thomas Anderson has said, "'Titane' is worth seeing. I don't know entirely how I feel about it, but, my God, you are in the hands of a real filmmaker. I was holding on tight for dear life, and that is a terrific feeling." And I would say that sums it up. Look, I didn't feel terrific in the cinema when I didn't have enough hands to cover my eyes and my ears during the more violent moments of the film. But to say this film puts you through something is an entirely accurate statement. When you buy your ticket and take your seat, you are about to undergo an experience. That is a pretty special reputation for a film to garner. It still does have its flaws. I found the third act a little slow, and to begin with felt a little uneasy about the utilisation of a titanium plate implant in conjunction with the plot. After reading some other source material, there are great discussions surrounding this plot point and the film's dialogue on trauma and humanity. Shared trauma seems to be another theme within the narrative as the two pinnacle characters work through theirs together.
But, to say this film puts you through something is an entirely accurate statement. When you buy your ticket and take your seat, you are about to undergo an experience. That is a pretty special reputation for a film to garne
So, yes. I guess like Paul Thomas Anderson, I'm really not entirely sure how to feel about this film. I did find appreciation in it. I probably couldn't watch it again, and I'm not sure I could recommend it - rather to warn people to buckle up. Sam, my boyfriend, put it excellently upon leaving the cinema when he said, "It's a weird Frankenstein of Lanthimos-type humour mixed in with a dash of Gasper Noé and a sprinkle of Mrs Doubtfire." If that sounds like your kind of movie... let me rephrase - if that sounds like your kind of experience, then buckle up!