This bizarre tale of cars, identity, murder and sex could be a New Age offspring of David Cronenberg’s 1996 film Crash that starred James Spader and Holly Hunter.
Julia Ducournau’s Titane revs up in its first half through injury and trauma as the transgressive auteur appears to be influenced by Claire Dennis and Leos Carax.
The main character Alexia, is done with undaunted mystery by Agathe Rousselle. She’s scarred for life from an accident involving her father (Bertrand Bonello), having a titanium plate fitted into her head. The coquettish young woman toils as a dancer at a motor show club with colleague Justine (Garance Marillier).
A seduction and an unusual predilection fuel a glimmering production that might seem more excessive than involving ‘with Alexia being estranged from her parents’. Her large, usually handy hair pin doesn’t come in handy in this type of punky transgressive expressionism.
After Alexia’s dangerous side returns to a house party and then home where she still resides with her parents, a bathroom is part of her means for anonymity under the guise of ‘Adrien.’ A young boy who had disappeared a decade earlier.
What truly isn’t for the faint of heart has more of a familial slant from human growth hormone user and aging fire captain Vincent (Vincent Lindon) believing Alexia as his missing son while opting not for a DNA test. Ducournau lets the proceedings gravitate in unsettling fashion through masquerade and delusion that doesn’t bode well with the captain’s veteran emergency members.
Titane may break down like Alexia as revelations come to fruition, but an oily, fleshy aesthetic mates well with the aura developed by Rousselle’s mute, later androgynous character. It’s a perverse, eventually spine-tingling affair, a steely cinematic alloy that startlingly strains for corrosive resistance.