Sex Drive
SFX|January 2022
A damaged young woman is impregnated by a car in Titane, Julia Ducournau’s latest body horror

TEN YEARS AFTER a boy went missing, he hands himself into the police… except “he” is really a female killer on the lam who’s broken her nose and bound her breasts with bandages.

This ill-advised scheme isn’t the strangest plot point in Titane (meaning titanium), French writer/director Julia Ducournau’s Palme d’Or-winning follow-up to Raw, her thinking person’s cannibal horror. That comes when the murderous anti-heroine impossibly conceives a child by having sex with a car – causing us to speculate, as her belly swells at unnatural speed, on what she might give birth to…

If you’ve seen the 2012 documentary The Imposter, you may wonder if serial impersonator Frédéric Bourdin was an inspiration. Not the case, says Ducournau, for whom the film’s emotional centre is Vincent (Vincent Lindon), the grieving father who buys into the deception. “For me, in this lie that they share, the one that feels the deepest is Vincent’s fantasy about bringing his son back through that person. The fact that it stems from his incapacity to grieve the loss of his son is something we can all relate to,” she tells Red Alert. “It makes him, for me, the emotional bearer of the film. That’s why I went with Vincent, because he’s a fearless actor. He goes beyond all boundaries as far as emotions are concerned.”

However, it’s Agathe Rousselle as Alexia, the young woman left with a metal plate in her head after a childhood car crash, who has received the most critical bouquets. Requiring the first-time actor to gyrate on the bonnet of a Cadillac, commit multiple murders, writhe in abject suffering and convey intense emotional states with barely any dialogue, it’s quite a role.

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