First of all, I must state that there is something about one aspect of the film that I do not like; integration with sci-fi through all those new gender(s), human transformation and redefining the religion etc. In other words, it is ok for the New French Extremity to go beyond the regular expectations as a genre and to establish a one-to-one connection with industrialization, but it is still not the type I enjoy.
Anyway, let’s get to the ones I like. I find it valuable that the French New Extremity does not shy away from the messages that it will send as a slap in the face and drag the audience out of their comfort zone. Also the wimpy audience being dragged out from the usual ‘voyeuristic’ position with stunning scenes, all traces of this genre are already present in this film.
Especially the camera angles in the first episode were just a delight; the fact that we follow after Alexia at a distance of breath, getting dizzy with his dance etc. The frames throughout the film are also great, squeezing the character against the walls, trapping in the doors… And mirrors…. How could Julia Ducarnou match the specific purpose of the moment and the appearances of mirror in each frame it’s included? Speaking of the mirror, it was definitely the most effective and painful character transformation and identification scene among the movies I watched…
The character depth and transformations are also very raw and strikingly processed, most importantly, the step-by-step transformation from the objet petit a to the freak. Or for example, half of the hair is shaved and the other not; when you look at the not shaved half, you see just a regular person; but turn the camera to the shaved part, here is the deceased brother… Also Alexia / Adrien is not able to say even her name when the girl asks in the shower; thus it is also necessary to look at social roles here; is she a daughter, a son, the desired one, or the ostracized, even a murderer? Another example, just when you think she is doing well in her new identity there comes a strict answer “no”, she just gets off the bus meaning that she is not yet ready to mix into society. Maybe even she won’t be able to take on any of those roles, on the contrary, she will disappear little by little in all of them. I loved the fact that the film itself was not interested in the role of the wanted murderer case and made the audience stop following the issue of being caught/not caught (below explained).
The scene of the weird intercourse she is having with the car; after a car accident having ruined her life and mental health as well, you would expect her to turn the car in a post-traumatic taboo, instead the car is now an object of sexual desire. Paternal/maternal traumas and the transformation of roles (father/lover/Jesus/Pieta) is also the gamechangers of the identities presented in the movie. In parallel fiction, the father’s burning his stomach while his own stomach is cracking and not being able to identify, then not being able to make love, again the uncertainty in the roles… Locking his firefighter father in his bedroom and burning down his house… The desire to break into her mother through the girl’s pierced breast. You see maybe a beast while killing people without any trace of emotion, but she’s still fragile and sensitive.
A beautiful salute to Noe’s Climax with neon-lit uncanny dance scene… I also loved the soundtracks being in harmony with what’s going on in each frame.
I liked Titane in terms of that it requires an attention to understand the layers. But frankly, I found it a bit weak in terms of blurring between its own layers and deviating from one place to another. Postmodern narrative, yes, you don’t expect integrity, which I wrote above that I like it a lot that it turns down any expectations. For example while fleeing from the police she directly goes into the airport which in fact supposed to be the “most secured” place where she could be caught in any minute. She passes by the TV that she’s widely announced as “the wanted” and changes her identity in the toilet. Beauty of post-modern narrative… But when the same narrative oscillates between incoherence and inconsistency, it seems to me that the integrity is all gone, this is the point I object to. Besides I don’t think Titane is innovative in any way; everything it represents cinematographically and thematically has already been done for decades.
Lastly, if you’ve watched Systemsprenger (System Crasher – 2019), it sounds like Alexia seems like the grown up version of the kid there. But those two movies certainly not alike in terms of structure and issues, Systemsprenger has instead a deep psychological background.