Spread it or ignore it?

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If you want a heavy dose of body horror look no further than Titanium, now on VOD. The diaper-lady-with-a-car-and-you-won’t-guess-what’s-coming-Julia Ducournau’s next thriller won the Palme d’Or at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival , a distinction that will only shock those who do not realize that breakmeisters General Lars von Trier and Michael Haneke won the award. Surprisingly, David Cronenberg is not on this list, given that he has already made a film about people who rejoiced by watching horrific car crashes – and as a result, Ducournau emerges as his spiritual successor. At this point, either you get attached to watching Titanium, or start a Hallmark Channel Christmas romantic comedy, because there are no other types of people on this planet.

TITANIUM: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?

The essential: Young Alexia’s father tries to drive. She kicks her seat, makes irritating noises, unbuckles her seatbelt, and climbs up. He turns to reattach it and crushes the car. We get detailed close-ups of doctors screwing a metal plate through his skull and stapling the skin together. When she leaves the hospital, she walks up to the family car and gives it a big kiss. Now Alexia is an adult (Agathe Rouselle). She wears her hair down to show the scar, which looks like a curly barbed wire. On the back of his jacket, a lion. She struts around a place best described as an auto-fetish showroom – “auto” as in “cars” and “fetish” as in “everything in this movie”.

The music resonates as Alexia stretches over a vintage Cadillac with a hot flame paint job. She twerks and touches herself, dancing as if possessed, as if there isn’t another time when Alexia is more fully herself. Then she signs autographs and poses for selfies with fans, then takes a shower with some of the other dancers. One of them is Justine (Garance Marillier), who flirts slightly, then it gets heavier when Alexia bends down for the soap and hooks her hair into Justine’s nipple ring and has to pull and pull to get it out. . Alexia leaves the room and a fan chases her to her car. All he wants is an autograph. And a kiss. She obliges, pulls a knitting needle hairpin out of her bun and slams the pointed end into her ear. It foams at the mouth and wiggles and contracts and dies, and here is Alexia, acting like she already has.

She comes in to rinse off the saliva and while she is showering she hears a thud in the showroom. It’s the Cadillac. Don’t ask questions, it won’t help. Naked and dripping, she goes up and I’m not sure the mechanics of what’s going on here, but it’s rough and loud and disturbing, and you can see the “Love is a dog from hell” tattoo between her breasts. I must appreciate a good cry from Bukowski. It goes on, this plot, about that woman and her, well, let’s call them problems. The story involves: Other missing and presumably deceased people. Alexia changes her appearance in a way that makes you squirm, shiver, or convulse. The most terrifying pregnancy since that of John Hurt in Extraterrestrial. A grieving father, Vincent (Vincent Lindon), who is probably not convinced that Alexia is indeed his missing son for 10 years, but surely wants to force himself to believe it anyway; He’s also a firefighter and steroid addict who gets needles stuck in his butt and strained so hard as he flexed in the mirror, it makes this lapped kangaroo meme look like Lil Bub pawing a feather. If you need to take a moment now, I fully understand.

titanium
Photo: Everett Collection

What movies will this remind you of? : crash, Drive, Possessor, Zulawski Possession, Under the skin, Santa sangre, mother!, Willem Dafoe’s teeth in The heart that is in Desert.

Performances to watch: Rouselle’s commitment to the bit runs along the hem of Isabella Adjani in Possession, a comparison that I will never, never do lightly. Rouselle is fearless.

Memorable dialogue: When a creep gropes one of the dancers, a bouncer berates him, “Touch with your eyes,” he says, and that’s something we’re glad we couldn’t do while watching this movie.

Gender and skin: Lots of the type who might take you on a break to call your therapist.

Our opinion : The first act of Titanium is one of the fiercest movie footage you can see if you don’t rush through the middle of the skull surgery sequence. It’s impossible to maintain such intensity for a feature film, and Ducournau doesn’t try, choosing instead to shift gears and explore provocations that are a little more cerebral, and a little less physical. She infuses ideas about parenthood, gender identity and sex into this dense soup whose main ingredient is a protagonist defined by her taboos, a grotesque murderer who self-harms with a fetish of pain and habit. to spill motor oil on it. .

The film challenges us to practice cognitive dissonance: the premise is patently absurd, but the details are rendered with such realism, our response is visceral and immediate. We’re too busy sticking together or laughing – yes, laughing, seriously or out of self-preservation – to think. Ducournau uses sound and visual texture to inspire physical sensations; even the sound of buzzing hair clippers transcends its harmlessness to inspire creepy creeps. Ducournau shakes up expectations with surreal and otherworldly sequences in which Alexia accompanies Vincent and the firefighters as they fight fires, scenes that meander through more contemplative territory, that illuminate these people, so often seen in their lives. darkest moments. The film comes to a purposefully unsatisfying and anticlimactic conclusion, a relatively tame moment of horror and beauty that answers some questions but stubbornly offers little clarity. The physicality of the film is rendered with the lucidity of a master like Cronenberg; film psychology is not a task for the weak.

Our call: Don’t worry, I’ll take a week to get over it. Then of course you should STREAM it.

John Serba is a freelance writer and film critic based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Read more of his work on johnserbaatlarge.com or follow him on Twitter: @johnserba.

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