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Laramie Movie Scope: Titane

Genre-bending psycho killer metamorphosis

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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November 22, 2021 – Titane is a French film about a serial killer impregnated by a car who undergoes a human-to-machine metamorphosis. You wouldn't think there would be much of a market for a story of this kind, except for the popularity of the cult Japanese film, “Tetsuo: The Iron Man,” which is somewhat similar.

This bizarre story is not your traditional old-fashioned sex and violence movie, despite the same basic ingredients. It begins when the movie's main character, Alexia (played as a seven year old by Adèle Guigue and as an adult by Agathe Rousselle) is seriously injured in a car accident years ago when she was a child. A titanium plate is used to repair her head injury. Next, we jump forward to Alexia as an adult working as a model at a car show.

Alexia does a very sexy routine, where she slithers all over the car and shakes her booty at the admiring men in the crowd, who are eager to get her autograph, if not more. One man follows her to her car after the show, declares his love for her and forcibly kisses her. Alexia murders him with a metal hairpin, which is more the size of a knitting needle. She hides the body and goes back inside to wash off the man's dying drool.

While showering, she hears a bang at the door and goes to investigate, stark naked and dripping wet. There is no one at the door, but there is a large car which has turned itself on. Alexia is turned on by the car and climbs into the back seat, where she has sex with the car. I did mention this is a bizarre story.

There has long been a connection between sex and cars. Sexy women have long been used in advertising to sell cars, and men think that having a sexy car will attract women. This film puts sex and cars together in a more extreme way that reminds me a bit of a similar pairing in the 1996 David Cronenberg film, “Crash” (not to be confused with the 2004 Academy Award-winning film of the same name).

I mention David Cronenberg in passing, the director known as the “Baron of Blood,” because of his use of gooey, visceral, cringe-inducing visuals, such as an exploding head in “Scanners.” Cronenberg's gooey gorefests look pretty tame compared to the bloody, oily visuals in “Titane.”

It turns out that Alexia has committed a considerable number of murders. She seems to be a kind of psychopathic killer who has no remorse, is full of self-loathing, and hates everyone who tries to get close to her. When the police finally start closing in on her, she cuts her hair and breaks her own nose to disguise her looks. Thus disfigured, she pretends to be a boy missing for years, Adrien Legrand.

Vincent Legrand, the missing boy's father, identifies Alexia as his son, while declining a DNA test. Vincent seems to know that Alexia is not his son, but accepts her anyway, even when she tries to kill him with that deadly hairpin of hers. Alexia and Vincent eventually bond, and become a very strange family. Instead of killing people, Alexia manages to save a woman's life, using CPR under the instruction of Vincent, who is a fireman and emergency medical technician.

As strange as this story is, it gets even stranger as Alexia's body undergoes an outlandish transformation, and Vincent goes to extreme lengths to cover up Alexia's identity. This is a painful movie to watch because the two main characters are so emotionally broken and in such extreme emotional pain. Both of them engage in cringe-worthy self-mutilation of various kinds.

There is a kind of healing near the end of the film with the bonding of Vincent and Alexia. Alexia gradually undergoes contradictory changes, becoming something less physically human, while at the same time becoming more emotionally human in her behavior.

Perhaps this movie from writer-director Julia Ducournau is at least partially about the way that men view women mainly as sex objects. Alexia is transformed from a very sexy woman into a person of the opposite sex, and finally into something not quite fully human. She is healed by unconditional love from Vincent, whose love has nothing to do with her sex. That is not the whole story, by a long shot, but I think it is a substantial part of it.

There is a lot of sex, violence and nudity in this movie, and that might be enough for some to enjoy it. As for myself, I found the self-hatred, the psycho serial killer scenes, as well as the self-mutilations, repulsive. This film rates a C+. So why the positive rating? Just because I don't like it doesn't mean it is bad film.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff (no extra charges apply). I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2021 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)

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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at dalek three zero one nine at gmail dot com [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]