Titane (2021) | Notes

Some definitions

Titane: A metal highly resistant to heat and corrosion, with high tensile strength alloys.
Love Is a Dog from Hell: Charles Bukowski, 1977 – a raw, lyrical, exploration of the exigencies, heartbreaks, and limits of love.
Mechanophilia: a paraphilia involving a sexual attraction to machines such as bicycles, motor vehicles, helicopters, ships, and aeroplanes. [Picabia, Marinetti]

The atmosphere at the cinema

The rules about the empty seats during the pandemic were removed today at the film theater. All the seats were occupied. There were some high-pitch laughs and one or two deep breaths en mass. When the film ended, the general audience’s attitude was wry. Not affected by the film but joking about it. It might also be a defense mechanism towards the tactile experience that film offers that is hard to swallow and digest. Maybe we all will encounter Alexia in a transient dream sequence or during a real-life moment, where she passes by and hopefully does not kill us.

Reminiscences

I’ll start with personal reminiscences about the other films to avoid writing and thinking about them. Some of them might be the first references for the others:

  • Les garçons sauvages (2017, transformation not with metals but with nature)
  • Rundskop (2011, steroids, needles, muscles, the father)
  • Crash (1996, almost all the other Cronenbergs, cars, sexuality, and body)
  • The Elephant Man (1980, the gaze of the others, monstrosity)
  • Gräns (2018, alienation, still finding your love and peer)
  • Teströl és lélekröl (2017, a romantic and calm version of this love story)

Notes

For me, it was a film about heavy transformation, strangeness, uncanny desires, acceptance, and love. The transformation was between sexes and from flesh to metals. Despite starting like a Fast and Furious movie, the desire to fuck cars, to kill people, to hate dad, to have something bushing out in the body subverts the protagonist. And the subversion opens up new spaces for her.

Since it’s a French arthouse sci-fi thriller gore drama, there are some tricks taken from genre movies that cause sudden laughter (how many more people do I need to kill?) or make the fur fly (hit the nose, Jack). They don’t add to the exploration that the film is after but perhaps helps it be more audience-friendly.

The soundtrack is from Jim Williams, the interpretation of Sarabande was shivering. The soundtracks had become more and more impressive for me lately, maybe because I re-started to experience them in the movie theater again. It was similar in my childhood too, I was dreaming about shitty movies just because they had such seductive trailers, with tempting audio design. Years later, I’ve learned about the marketing tricks in the trailers. Nevertheless, before the film, we watched the trailer of House of Gucci, which also had a tantalizing soundtrack. Recently, Matrix IV also hit it with the White Rabbit, the holy song mentions even a chessboard.

I related with Alexia and the firefighter guy who adopted him. The narrative of the characters dealing with their body or the filmmaker dealing with how the characters are dealing with their bodies is a rare topic to find in the stories. Most of the time, the great bodies of the actors and actresses are already given and they don’t disintegrate throughout the film. That’s why I thought of Rundskop. For example, one of the popular bodily transformations that took place before the films such as The Machinist (2004) or Monster (2003) felt like the easy ways while watching Titane [my browser extension that helps me for writing in English tries to correct Titane as Titanic].

As an addition to this bodily transformation, how Alexia is handling the changes in her body was adventitious. In general, when people encounter negative changes in their bodies —I don’t know what they do when they see positive changes, probably praise themselves— they ask others and finally see a doctor. However, I believe, it’s also not really rare that people taking action on their bodies to fix or delay these symptoms. Scratching the skin/tissue might be the first and foremost instinctive attempt. Nevertheless, once you damage the body or it transformed weirdly itself, then you need to hide it. The silk gauze or different kinds of creams step in at that moment. However, this practice of hiding is never eternal, it plays an intricate game with distance and intimacy. I won’t forget the traces of the cloth on Alexia’s body.

I tried but couldn’t reach the core of the story which is probably —getting help from Docornau’s interviews— about the possibilities of being human and seeking/finding connection and love. One of the reasons that I liked the film was its resourcefulness in terms of some fundamental themes. Let me list those and say goodbye: gruesome child play with the father, paternal guilt, alienation, hurting oneself, unconditional protection and love, extraordinary coincidence, unconscious violence, burning the house, hiding in the hoodie, dancing under the flags, needle in the butt, metal in the spine. The images that last.