Julia Docournau’s uncompromising newest film is a beautiful analysis of unconditional love and family.
If you know me, you know that I have been eagerly and anxiously awaiting this film. I knew about Julia Docournau’s first film, Raw, and when she won the Palme d’Or my anticipation for Titane shot right up. That first trailer dropped and I could not stop watching it, so before I could get to this film I had to finally check out Docournau’s first film. I loved Raw and hope to write a piece on that very soon. Sadly, I was not able to watch this in the theatre as the closest one stopped showing it after a week and it was too far from me, so I waited until this was finally released for rental/purchase. Of course, France has officially selected the film to be their entry for Best International Feature Film at next year’s Academy Awards. Did Titane crash and burn or was it another strong outing from Julia Docournau?
Titane is written and directed by French Palme d’Or winning director, Julia Docournau. The film stars Agathe Rousselle, Vincent Lindon, Garance Marillier, and Laïs Salameh. Docouranu reunites with her cinematographer from Raw, Ruben Impens. The film also features a score by Jim Williams. Titane looks at the journey of a car model Alexia who has a titanium plate inside her skull after experiencing a car crash at a young age. Throughout the film, we embark on this quest for Alexia to find a chosen family as she escapes the perils of her own personal life. If you know anything about Julia Docournau, you know that this is a body horror film and does not stop to incorporate that into the very foundation of her movie.
Titane is the epitome of cinematic boldness and a truly uncompromising vision that excels on all of its expectations from the get-go. I know it is hard to think about it this way but Titane is beautiful in every single way. The film heavily discusses themes like chosen family, gender identity, and unconditional love. Agathe Rousselle’s performance as Alexia is well thought out even though so aggressive is so easy to sympathize with. She brings so much love and cares for the character that it is so hard to believe she has never acted a day in her life before. Of course, it is not just Rousselle who excels in this but Vincent Lindon is magical and encapsulates an old man who fears growing old in his weakening body. The musical choices for the soundtrack blend so well to continue telling the story of Alexia within the movie. The film’s cinematography is so rich and lit beautifully that truly sets it apart from Raw while keeping true to Docournau’s style.
Titane works well to create a film that will be a big piece of discussion in the coming months leading into the Academy Awards. I am all aboard the Julia Docournau hype train and cannot wait for what comes next in her career. I hope to see Agathe Rousselle in more films because she is truly a talented up-and-coming actress. I am sure that this film will not escape my mind anytime soon. This will definitely receive rewatches as time goes by because it is that damn good of a film.
Watch Titane by renting or purchasing it on most video rental services.
The English language debut film of French director Leos Carax is ambitious but it just does too much to work that falls unbelievably flat.
It’s finally here after premiering at this year’s Cannes Film Festival where it received a standing ovation (even though that seems to be tradition at this point for most movies at Cannes). French director Leos Carax creates his first English language film with the help of Sparks duo Ron and Russel Mael. The film is shot by Caroline Champetier along with music created by Sparks themselves. The film received raving reviews at Cannes especially many praising the performances by our leads. One can definitely agree that there was some anticipation for this film especially for fans of Carax and his last film Holy Motors.
Annette stars Adam Driver as, Henry McHenry, a comedian on a steady downfall in his career and life and Marion Cotillard as Catherine Defrasnoux a successful and beautiful opera singer who fall in love, get married, and have their first child. It is after they have their child that they face a slew of problems ranging from bad communication to jealousy. The film also stars Simon Helberg and Devyn McDowell who show off an incredible range of performances in the film. The film is definitely heightened by the performances included along with their singing abilities.
Now, let’s get one thing covered before we get into what this movie is doing. Annette is bizarre, ambitious and at times both of these characteristics are what helps the film stand out, but it is also what makes the film stay convoluted. The film succeeds in getting its message across about power hungry jealous men who are not content with their life and career, so they must manipulate those around them to help keep their career alive. It is exactly who Henry is and who he realizes he became by the end of the film. The film also has some stunning cinematography that is elevated by some genius production design. Everything from the lighting setups to the set pieces really help create the atmosphere of the film.
After all that well you are probably asking, “well what did not work for you then?” Everything else basically from story to music to pacing just did not work. I am a firm believer that a musical should at least be good in the music department, and even though I am sure that the Sparks have made some good music the music in Annette was just uninteresting. It helped create its atmosphere but at times it felt very out of place within its story where it should be helping service the story. As mentioned before, Driver and Cotillard are magnificent performers but the music just does not work for the film to execute itself.
The story of Annette is interesting but because of its off pacing it just does not seem to ever capture more than it is grasping. The themes are far more interesting to digest than this convoluted story that just does not find its footing. A lot of that is to blame for a very dragged out second and third act that just keep going and going. If the film could have been shaved down 30 minutes I think it could have worked better but who knows when the pacing is only one part of multiple problems this film finds itself in. Now, you’re probably thinking that I just did not like this film at all? Well, I found it to be just fine because its ambition even though it is what limited it at times is what I think pushes it to be a good film. There is a lot of love and care within the film that just helps create this bizarre flick and because of that it is worthy of that praise. Even though there is a lot ground that can be improved Leos Carax does a good job of creating a very stylized film that only he can make.
Annette is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.