As a young girl, Alexia is injured in a car accident. Doctors perform a craniotomy on her, in which a titanium plate is put into her head. From this point, she develops a special bond with all things metal. It is the piercing in her co-worker’s nipple that interests her, more than the woman herself. The protagonist’s relationship with automobiles specifically goes further than even Stephen King dared to imagine with Christine. Wanted in connection to a string of murders, she decides to leave her past life behind and seeks shelter in a stranger’s home by impersonating his long-lost son.

While this part of the storyline can easily bring to mind the case of serial impostor Frédéric Bourdin, Titane is an utterly incalculable and innovative addition to the cinema of New French Extremity. Julia Ducournau, whose first feature, the cannibal coming-of-age drama Raw, premiered at Cannes in 2016, once again succeeds in fusing elements of the horror genre with social criticism. En passant, there are powerful implications about gender roles, be it her new father’s testosterone injections or the fact that Alexia’s violence is fatally underestimated because she is a woman. Her dance moves entice her male audience to the point of stardom in the scene. Once she is being read as a man, the same moves make a whole fire department stop and stare in bewilderment and outrage.

Non-binary actor Agathe Rousselle, who plays Alexia, is easily capable of keeping pace with veteran Vincent Lindon, an impressive feat considering this is their debut performance in a full-length film.

It is surprising to see an unguarded creation like this in Competition rather than the Un Certain Regard section of the festival. It is certainly not a movie for everyone. Various plot points are bound to cause a shaking of heads, possibly nervous laughter, right up to exclamations of profanity from the audience. Nonetheless, Titane is continuously entertaining.

★★★☆☆

Selina Sondermann

Titane does not have a UK release date set.

For further information about the event visit the Cannes Film Festival website here.

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