Cannes 2021: Titanium puts oil on the fire of the Croisette [critique]

Five years after Grave, Julia Ducournau demonstrates with Titane all the singularity, the richness and the brutality of her cinema. Ye who enter here, abandon all hope.

Titanium, which has just been released at the cinema, won the Palme d’Or at the 74th Cannes film festival tonight. Here is our review of the event film by Julia Ducournau, initially published the evening of its screening on the Croisette, on July 13.

Titane receives the Palme d’Or: The full list of winners of the 74th Cannes film festival

Five years later Serious and her planetary buzz that began at Critics’ Week under the nose and beard of the official selection, Julia Ducournau is now aiming for the Palme. This does not mean to say that, however, she has dressed her cinema in fine attire capable of seducing an audience disguised for the occasion. As we know, on the Croisette, the fantastic eruptions divide more than they unite. Titanium with its crumpled sheet metal, its damaged bodies, its bloody metamorphoses, its poisoned secretions, is undoubtedly what we will see of the most agitated and uneasy of the present vintage. We therefore thank the filmmaker for this call for air – and when we know to what extent the universe she offers here is stifled and compartmentalized, the notion of air is quite relative.

Like Serious – and the short film Junior before him -, Titanium is the story of a mutation. Or how to apprehend a body that nature forces us to exhibit and support? Scratched, scarified, damaged, eaten, sucked, the skin suffers a thousand outrages. Julia Ducournau is the apostle of a carnivorous cinema. After an intro of which we will not reveal anything and which ensures a form of continuity with the previous film, we discover the heroine Alexia (the revelation Agathe Rousselle) in full striptease in a tuning room in front of an audience of horny men. . But the tall blonde has eyes only for the gleaming cabin whose shapes she sensually marries. His gestures, both mechanical and shocked, immediately reveal a shady fragility. As soon as Alexia leaves the headlights, the film will gradually sink into a deep night. A night when all rest is forbidden. In this world (the film was shot in the south of France), the threat is permanent: children disappear, savage crimes take place … Alexia, child-adult seems totally unsuitable. She discovers otherness but does not know how to do it. La Justine de Serious (Garance Marillier) will pay the price. Alexia is more comfortable in the passenger compartment of a car to vibrate the interior leather and the ceiling light (special dedication to the Christine by John Carpenter!)

The film seems to advance in blocks where all normality is exhausted by itself to install its own chaos. The ambient strangeness dictates its law. The film will nevertheless be fixed with the arrival of Vincent Lindon in the frame. He is propelled in the film as an injured animal and therefore nervous. Sharpened by hours spent in a sports hall, the actor plays the leader of a patrol of young firefighters. The man is sad like the moonless night in the film. His meeting with Alexia turns into an emotional obsession. Alexia will once again have to mutate, become another. This is the only logic she knows: change in order to exist, not to satisfy some fantasies but to find an identity that she can finally claim.

Titanium is also a fluid mechanics, secretions abound. Julia Ducournau signs a rich, powerful, violent film, the radical nature of which is not there to amaze the gallery but to delimit the outlines of a universe as dark as hell. At the time of writing, we haven’t quite got off the car yet. Titanium is gold.

Vincent Lindon – Titanium: “It’s all me, including the buttocks”

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