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The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student


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“Titane”, masculine metal & feminine fire: Let them twist, rip, bang, burn & birth something new


Gender, sexuality, identity, humanity; the 2021 French film Titane is an aggressively rapturous experience, both in the sense of visceral, wild enjoyment as well as cathartic rebirth. 

The description on Letterboxd says it best, even if it is slightly deceptive: “Following a series of unexplained crimes, a former firefighter is reunited with his son who’s been missing for ten years.” 

Not all is what it seems, and in order to avoid spoilers, I will not be speaking anymore on specifics of the plot. At its core, “Titane” is the story of an overly masculine father coming to terms with the fact that his son isn’t strictly a boy, and about a person struggling to find love and acceptance with the identity they truly inhabit. 

That’s merely my own interpretation of what’s presented here, and it’s exciting to consider how others will perceive the film’s messages about the fluidity of gender and the fragility of the norms we create as a society. But no matter how you interpret the film, there’s no denying how viciously it deals with its subject matter. As body horror and violence explode onto the screen in gloriously tantalizing fashion, you physically feel every second of it.

Director Julia Ducournau somehow manages to expertly balance restraint and depth with grabbing you by the throat and punching you in the goddamn mouth. This is a film whose abstract premise couldn’t work unless crafted by someone with a clear and bold vision. Ducournau proves she’s that person in the very first frame of motor oil sensually secreting from chugging metal as it vibrates to a muffled rendition of “Wayfaring Stranger.” 

Lead Agathe Rouselle is a revelation. She completely destroys this physically demanding breakout role with little to no dialogue. It’s an impressive performance, and the established Vincent Lindon plays off of her perfectly. Their chemistry, along with Ducournau’s writing and directing, prove why Titane won “best film” at the Cannes film festival. Together they create scenes so touching, tense, tragic and surreal that you can’t help but stare deeply and appreciate the nuance on display. 

Titane is a true spectacle, and even though Ducournau has made just two feature films in her career (the first being the deeply disturbing, cannibalistic coming of age film Raw), Titane is already her masterpiece. I find myself ecstatic at the thought of what she’ll give us next, but until then, Titane will certainly satisfy my appetite for unique cinema.

✩✩✩✩✩ 5/5

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  • P

    Patty WOct 24, 2021 at 1:19 am

    I, too, want to see this movie after reading your insightful review! Patty

  • J

    JulesOct 23, 2021 at 4:17 pm

    Thanks for the thought-provoking review, now I want to see this movie for myself!