Titane
Titane poster.jpeg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJulia Ducournau
Written byJulia Ducournau
Produced byJean-Christophe Reymond
Starring
CinematographyRuben Impens
Edited byJean-Christophe Bouzy
Music byJim Williams
Production
companies
Distributed by
  • Diaphana Distribution (France)
  • O'Brother Distribution (Belgium)
Release dates
  • 13 July 2021 (2021-07-13) (Cannes)
  • 14 July 2021 (2021-07-14) (France)
  • 28 July 2021 (2021-07-28) (Belgium)
Running time
108 minutes[1]
Countries
  • France
  • Belgium[2]
LanguageFrench
Box office$4.6 million[3][4]

Titane (French: [titan] (listen), lit. "Titanium") is a 2021 body horror drama film[5][6] written and directed by Julia Ducournau. The French-Belgian co-production stars Agathe Rousselle in her feature film debut as Alexia, a woman who, after being injured in a car accident as a child, has a titanium plate fitted into her head. Vincent Lindon, Garance Marillier and Laïs Salameh also star.

The film had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on 13 July 2021, where Ducournau became the second female director to win the Palme d'Or, the festival's top award, as well as the first female filmmaker to win solo.[7] It received critical acclaim and was selected as the French entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 94th Academy Awards, but did not make the shortlist.[8][9] At the 47th César Awards, it was nominated for four awards, including Best Director for Ducournau and Most Promising Actress for Rousselle. At the 75th British Academy Film Awards, Ducournau received a nomination for Best Director. At the 11th Magritte Awards, Titane received five nominations and won two awards, including Best Foreign Film.[10]

Plot

A little girl named Alexia annoys her father during a drive. As she removes her seatbelt, her father turns around to scold her, causing a car crash. Alexia suffers a skull injury and has a titanium plate fitted into her head. When she gets out of the hospital, she shuns her parents and embraces their car passionately.

Years later, Alexia, now an adult with a large scar on the side of her head, works as a showgirl at a motor show. One night, after a show, a male fan follows Alexia in the showroom's parking lot, declares his love to her, and forcibly kisses her; she then brutally murders him using her large metal hairpin. As she returns to shower, Alexia hears a banging coming from the showroom. She finds the car she modeled with earlier has turned on by itself and enters it naked, has sex with the car, and eventually climaxes.

It is revealed that Alexia is a serial killer who has murdered several men and women in the past few months. She still lives with her parents, who seem unaware of her connection with the crimes and with whom she has a distant relationship.

Alexia attends a house party, where she starts to have sex with her coworker Justine. However, motor oil begins secreting from her vagina, so she takes a pregnancy test which returns a positive result. She tries to perform an abortion with her hairpin but fails. Alexia comes out of the bathroom and murders Justine, then proceeds to kill the other guests, but one woman manages to escape. Alexia returns home and tries to burn a bloody blanket, but it sets the house on fire. She locks her parents in their bedroom and leaves.

Now wanted for murder, Alexia alters her appearance to pretend to be Adrien Legrand, a young boy who had disappeared ten years before at age seven, by cutting her hair, taping down her breasts and pregnant belly, and breaking her own nose. She then goes to the police claiming that she's Adrien, where his father, Vincent, a fire captain, accepts Alexia as his missing son and refuses to do a DNA test.

Vincent takes Alexia to the station where he lives and works and introduces her to his men. The firefighters are puzzled by the mute, androgynous, and apparently traumatized "Adrien", but they refrain from questioning the captain's behavior. Alexia becomes an apprentice at the station, under Vincent's supervision. As Vincent gives more responsibility to his "son" over the other experienced firefighters, one firefighter confronts Vincent about "Adrien's" identity. However, Vincent immediately shuts him down and tells him to never speak of his son.

Vincent tries to preserve his strength by injecting steroids into his aging body, but he finds that he seems to be building an immunity to them. Alexia is increasingly disturbed by his possessiveness and considers escaping from the fire station. However, after Vincent experiences a cardiac arrhythmia from injecting a large dose of steroids, Alexia decides to stay with him.

Vincent's long-estranged ex-wife comes to see her "son", and ends up discovering a now-heavily pregnant Alexia without her body taped down. She nevertheless keeps the secret for herself, not wishing to interfere with her ex-husband's delusion, and begs Alexia to take care of him. Vincent at one point acknowledges his delusion, telling Alexia that "whoever you are, you are my son." When he inadvertently uncovers her breasts, he is clearly shocked but continues caring for her.

At a party at the fire station, the firefighters urge "Adrien" to dance to the music. Alexia breaks out her showgirl choreography, confusing everyone. Vincent, disappointed, walks out of the crowd. After the party, Alexia has sex with a fire truck.

Alexia's body gradually breaks down, as the skin of her stomach tears to reveal new metal plates. When her pregnancy comes to term, Alexia reveals her real name to Vincent, briefly attempting to seduce him and then begging for his help. Vincent helps Alexia give birth, the titanium side of her skull splitting open on her final push, killing her. Vincent holds the baby, whose body appears with patches of titanium, and tells it repeatedly, "I'm here."

Cast

Left to right: actress Agathe Rousselle, director Julia Ducournau, actor Vincent Lindon at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival closing ceremony
Left to right: actress Agathe Rousselle, director Julia Ducournau, actor Vincent Lindon at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival closing ceremony

Production

In September 2019, it was announced that Vincent Lindon and Agathe Rousselle had joined the cast of the film, with Julia Ducournau directing the film from a screenplay she wrote. Neon is set to distribute the film in the United States.[11][12]

Production was initially set to begin in April 2020, but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[13] Principal photography eventually began in September 2020.[14]

Release

Titane had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on 13 July 2021, where it received the Palme d'Or, the festival's top award.[7] The film also screened at New York, London and Toronto.[15][16][17]

Altitude Film Distribution and Film4 jointly acquired distribution rights for the film in the UK and Ireland in June 2021, prior to the film's Cannes premiere.[18] It was released in France by Diaphana Distribution on 14 July 2021,[2] in Belgium by O'Brother Distribution on 28 July 2021,[2] and in the United States by Neon on 1 October 2021.[19]

Reception

Critical response

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 89% based on 239 reviews, with an average rating of 7.8/10. The site's critics consensus reads, "Thrillingly provocative and original, Titane reaffirms writer-director Julia Ducournau's delightfully disturbing vision."[20] On Metacritic, the film holds a rating of 74 out of 100, based on 43 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews."[21]

Nicholas Barber from BBC gave the film four out of five stars and called it "the most shocking film of 2021."[22] In his review for Variety, Peter Debruge called the film, "a cross between David Cronenberg’s Crash and the uterine horrors of Takashi Miike’s Gozu," and praised Ducournau for her handling of the film's themes.[23] In The Observer, Mark Kermode also compared the film to Crash whilst praising its cinematography and emotional depth,[24] and listed it as one of the best films of 2021.[25] Clarisse Loughrey in The Independent praised Rousselle and Lindon's performances and Ducournau's direction.[26] In NME, Lou Thomas gave the film five out of five stars and called it a "masterpiece".[27] In a more negative review, Peter Bradshaw, writing for The Guardian, gave the film 2 out of 5 stars and compared it unfavorably to Ducournau's previous film, stating; "...everything is so labored and crudely directed, without the style and sympathy of Raw."[28] Jude Dry in IndieWire was also critical of the film, calling it a "deeply misogynist movie with a healthy side of transphobia".[29]

Accolades

Titane had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on 13 July 2021. During the beginning of the closing ceremony, jury president Spike Lee was told in French to reveal the "first prize", but misinterpreted the phrase to mean "first place". As a result, he prematurely revealed that the film had won the Palme d'Or.[30] Ducournau is the second female director to win the award after Jane Campion in 1993 for The Piano, the first to win not jointly with another director (Campion had won jointly alongside Chen Kaige, who won for Farewell My Concubine),[31] and the fourth woman overall to win after Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux won in 2013 for their performances in Blue is the Warmest Colour.[32]

At the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival, the film won the People's Choice Award for Midnight Madness.[33] On 12 October 2021, it was selected as the French entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 94th Academy Awards, but did not make the shortlist.[8][9] At the 47th César Awards, it was nominated for four awards, including Best Director for Ducournau and Most Promising Actress for Rousselle. At the 75th British Academy Film Awards, Ducournau received a nomination for Best Director. At the 11th Magritte Awards, Titane received five nominations and won two awards, including Best Foreign Film.[10]

Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
Cannes Film Festival 17 July 2021 Palme d'Or Julia Ducournau Won [34]
Queer Palm Nominated
Toronto International Film Festival 18 September 2021 People's Choice Award for Midnight Madness Won [33]
Gotham Independent Film Awards 29 November 2021 Best International Feature Titane Nominated [35]
National Board of Review 3 December 2021 Top Five Foreign Language Films Won [36]
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Awards 6 December 2021 Best Foreign Language Film Nominated [37]
Detroit Film Critics Society 6 December 2021 Best Breakthrough Performance Agathe Rousselle Nominated [38]
European Film Awards 11 December 2021 Best Film Titane Nominated [39]
Best Director Julia Ducournau Nominated
Best Actress Agathe Rousselle Nominated
Best Actor Vincent Lindon Nominated
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards 15 December 2021 Best Actress Agathe Rouselle Nominated [40]
Best Foreign Language Film Titane Nominated
Best Use of Visual Effects Nominated
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards 18 December 2021 Best Supporting Actor Vincent Lindon Won [41]
St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association Awards 19 December 2021 Best Horror Film Titane Nominated [42]
Best Foreign Language Film Nominated
Florida Film Critics Circle Awards 22 December 2021 Best Supporting Actor Vincent Lindon Runner-up [43]
Best Foreign Language Film Titane Runner-up
Alliance of Women Film Journalists Awards January 2022 Best Non-English-Language Film Nominated [44]
Best Woman Director Julia Ducournau Nominated
Most Daring Performance Award Agatha Rouselle Won
National Society of Film Critics 8 January 2022 Best Supporting Actor Vincent Lindon Runner-up [45]
Austin Film Critics Association 11 January 2022 Best Actress Agathe Rousselle Won [46]
The Robert R. "Bobby" McCurdy Memorial Breakthrough Artist Award Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Vincent Lindon Nominated
Best International Film Titane Nominated
Seattle Film Critics Society 17 January 2022 Best Picture Nominated [47]
Best Director Julia Ducournau Nominated
Best Actress in a Leading Role Agathe Rousselle Nominated
Best Actor in a Supporting Role Vincent Lindon Nominated
Best Film Editing Jean-Christophe Bouzy Nominated
Best Film Not in the English Language Titane Nominated
Online Film Critics Society Awards 24 January 2022 Best Picture Nominated [48]
Best Actress Agathe Rousselle Nominated
Best Film Not in the English Language Titane Nominated
London Film Critics Circle Awards 6 February 2022 Film of the Year Nominated [49]
Foreign Language Film of the Year Nominated
Magritte Awards 12 February 2022 Best Foreign Film Won [10]
Best Supporting Actress Myriem Akheddiou Nominated
Best Cinematography Ruben Impens Won
Best Production Design Laurie Colson and Lise Péault Nominated
Best Sound Séverin Favriau, Fabrice Osinski, Stéphane Thiébaut Nominated
César Awards 25 February 2022 Best Director Julia Ducournau Nominated [50]
Most Promising Actress Agathe Rousselle Nominated
Best Cinematography Ruben Impens Nominated
Best Visual Effects Martial Vallanchon Nominated
Gaudí Awards 6 March 2022 Best European Film Titane Nominated [51]
British Academy Film Awards 13 March 2022 Best Director Julia Ducournau Nominated [52]
Golden Reel Awards 13 March 2022 Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Foreign Language Feature Film Séverin Favriau, Céline Bernard Nominated [53]
Critics' Choice Super Awards 17 March 2022 Best Horror Movie Titane Nominated
Best Actor in a Horror Movie Vincent Lindon Nominated
Best Actress in a Horror Movie Agathe Rousselle Won
American Society of Cinematographers Awards 20 March 2022 Spotlight Award Ruben Impens Nominated [54]
Satellite Awards 2 April 2022 Best Foreign Language Film Titane Nominated [55]

See also

References

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