Titane [TIFF21 Review]

I remember being at TIFF in 2016 and hearing all the buzz about Raw. It had premiered at Cannes, but its arrival at Midnight Madness was one everyone was excited about, and then the premiere brought even more excitement toward the film. During some of the more graphic scenes, members of the audience fainted. A film so extreme that viewers who specifically chose to attend a midnight screening of a genre film fainted. It’s worth mentioning that those who often attend these screenings typically love the intensity and gore found in horror and genre films. So when one of us (yes, because I too love to attend them) faints due to it being too much, I knew I had to check it out. Witnessing Raw for the first time (or nearly any time after) is a moving experience that makes me question how desensitized I might be overall. With Julia Ducournau eventually returning to Cannes, I was ready to indulge in her extremities once more. Then it won the Palme D’or, and I knew I had to watch the film. Titane is one of the wildest films I’ve ever had the pleasure to watch.

We’ve all seen B-horror films or films that are “gross” or “out there,” but it never feels earned, but rather for the sake of earning the title of it. Ducournau’s films earn the intensity and oddness, it feels real within the context of the film. It also keeps you entirely on your toes as anything is possible, and I wouldn’t have been shocked. I caught Titane a week prior to the festival at a press screening, and walking out of the screening, I had two thoughts. I couldn’t believe something so wonderfully chaotic could win the prestigious Palme D’or, but also, that I needed to see it with a massive crowd that will relish in the eccentricenss of the film. 

Even with spoilers of the film being written in reviews, I’m going to avoid talking about the plot because it is a film that needs to be experienced first hand. Titane is a film that on paper sounds chaotic and strange, and makes the film seem like it’s almost a joke. But Ducournau finds a way to inject some haunting humanity that makes it into a very moving experience. Once again, she finds a way to give the audience something to hold onto, even as we question what we are watching.

There are people who are going to not like this film, and find it either offensive or stupid. There will also be those who can’t stomach the film and might faint. Then there will be the Midnight Madness fans, the ones who think this film is everything we’ve ever wanted. Titane is the real deal. It is different, it is wild and a blast. Even if throughout the film I cringed and couldn’t look at the screen, it is done with such a delicate touch that I’m in awe. Everyone needs to give Titane a watch and hope that Julia Ducournau’s next film also plays at TIFF, and also causes yet another poor soul to faint.