Provocative, daring and fearlessly original. The director, Julia Ducournau, has inherited Lars Von Tier’s enfantterrible trophy – the Palme d’Or.Ducournau emerges as a singular and strong director with a vision and a viewpoint. Bravo.
The film begins with a young Alexia (Agathe Rousselle) in the back seat of her father’s car. She is annoying him and refuses to stop kicking his seat. When he turns around to scold her, he smashes into another car. Alexia is severely injured and returns from the hospital with a shaved head and a titanium bar in her head. She has an ugly scar on her half-shaved coif.
While there is no need to justify Julia Ducournau’s film with facts, there is research that backs up her premise.
A large body of evidence has now convincingly shown that adults suffering head injuries that damage the prefrontal cortex—especially the lower, ventral region—do indeed show disinhibited, impulsive, antisocial behavior that does not conform to the norms of society. Studies of the behavioral changes that follow head injuries in children showed early antisocial behavior that progressed into delinquency in adolescence and criminal behavior in adulthood that include impulsive aggressive and nonaggressive forms of antisocial behavior. Brain-imaging research shows that murderers and those with antisocial personalities have prefrontal abnormalities. Neurological case studies showing that prefrontal impairments in infancy, adolescence, and adulthood are later followed by antisocial, aggressive, and psychopathic-like behavior. Adapted, in parts, from The Anatomy of Violence by Adrian Raine.
Thus begins Alexia’s fascination with the crucible that changed her life. When we see Alexia again she is dancing and suggestively stimulating sex on the car. She works at a French version of a SEMA convention but instead of hopeful Las Vegas models standing by the newest cars, the dancers use the car as a stripper pole. After the warehouse closes, Alexia is confronted by an anxious fan. She kills him in an unprovoked fashion using a sharp hair stick (I have several and it now will become my signature look). Going back to the warehouse to shower off the blood, a loud pounding sound brings her to the car she was seducing earlier. She goes into the backseat and has glorious sex with the Cadillac.
I don’t know if it is in the DSM-5 under Paraphilic Disorders yet, but there is something called Mechanophilia: the love or sexual attraction to computers, cars, robots or androids, washing machines and other domestic appliances, lawn mowers and other mechanized gardening equipment. It is sexual relations between living organisms and machines. In 2013, Edward Smith came forward and informed the global media that he receives pleasure and arousal from cars. He claimed at the time he has had sex with over a 1000 cars. Smith claimed there are at least 500 active members online.
Alexia goes on a killing spree, just because. When Alexia sees “wanted posters” all over the media, she has a rather clever way to avoid capture. Alexia notices an ad for missing persons and she decides to become one of the missing, a 17-year old boy who vanished when he was a child.
Not simply cutting off her hair – it needed a good wash and styling anyhow – she tightly wraps her breasts and belly, which has grown. But that’s not enough for a proper transformation. She starts pounding her face into the porcelain sink giving herself a black eye and a horrible boxer’s saddle nose. The baseball cap completes her metamorphosis.
At the police station the missing boy’s father, Vincent Legrand (Vincent Lindon), immediately acknowledges the silent, feminine “boy”as his son Adrien, regardless of there being no evidence of the boy’s identity. Alexia goes with Vincent to his home near the firehouse where he is captain. She doesn’t talk and the young, athletic firemen think it all too strange but Vincent tells them it is his son. They are French, so they shrug and go along with the ruse.
Alexia has transformed herself and taken on a masculine identity. Vincent has changed himself as well. As he grows older, he has resorted to taking steroids to keep the physique expected of him. It’s a grueling, painful process.
Alexia/Adrien knows she is pregnant as her body becomes enlarged and she is leaking what looks like oil. She panics at being discovered.
Vincent brings Adrien’s mother to see him and she immediately knows that it is not her son. Her husband’s grief has been so overwhelming that, even seeing Alexia’s misshapen, pregnant body, she does not expose the deception. Vincent has been made whole.
The tabloid oppression with physical perfection is dominated by the Kardashian/Jenner empire filled with their before and after plastic surgeries. Phone camera can change your appearance to something more pleasing. Losing 100lbs by diet and exercise is a myth if you are famous. This is the weight loss solution: gastric sleeve and gastric bypass surgery. What is not common knowledge is that 50% of gastric bypass patients will regain the weight wIthin 24 months. Or, the recipients of gastric surgery will substitute a food obsession with another one: drugs, alcohol, gambling or shopping. It’s mental fixation on one thing.
One’s identity is now considered malleable: you can physically change your gender or simply announce your preference to be accepted as a different sex or no sex category at all. Society is being prepared to introduce the rights of gorillas (I agree!). Marriage will no longer be between the different sexes and same sexes. We will be able to marry robots and our beloved pets.
It’s already been done! In 2007, a woman fell in love with a king cobra and married the reptile at a traditional Hindu wedding celebrated by 2,000 guests in India. Priests chanted mantras to seal the union but the king cobra failed to come out of a nearby ant hill where it lives. A brass replica snake stood in for the hesitant groom. The 30-year-old bride said: "Though snakes cannot speak nor understand, we communicate in a peculiar way. Whenever I put milk near the ant hill where the cobra lives, it always comes out to drink. I always get to see it every time I go near the ant hill. It has never harmed me." The king cobra’s name was not given to the media but he does provide his wife with an income. The villagers considered the marriage to bring good luck to all of them.
Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism believe that due to one’s karma, you could easily be reincarnated as an animal.
TITANE addresses the fluidity of one’s sex identity. The desire, compulsion or need to transform oneself is not only a psychological need but now a technological commodity.
Rousselle and Lindon are sensational. While Rousselle is getting all the deserved publicity, it is Julia Ducournau who emerges as a singular and strong director with a vision and a viewpoint. Bravo.
For a complete list of Victoria Alexander's movie reviews on Rotten Tomatoes go to https://www.rottentomatoes.com/critic/victoria-alexander/movies
Member of Las Vegas Film Critics Society: www.lvfcs.org
Personal email: email@example.com