Things did not go according to plan at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival. Julia Ducarneau, director of Raw, is back in a big way with her surreal and literally auto-erotic thriller Titane. Extreme genre films don’t usually win awards, but this film broke the mold, including in how it won the big prize.
Let’s just say that Spike Lee has had better days. The famed director was on hand at the Cannes film festival to serve as the presiding head of the Cannes awards jury. The top prize, the Palme D’or, went to Titane, the most controversial film screened at the festival. That was surprising enough, but there was no time to let the awkward anticipation build (the film had been rumored to be a potential favorite) because Spike, when asked to announce the first prize announced the Palme D’or winner at the opening of the ceremony! Whoops. C’mon Spike, you’ve been at the Oscars for so many years, you know you save the best for last! Needless to say, this put the whole event into a bit of a tailspin.
But it wasn’t just the timing of it all. This was a unique situation in many ways. Significantly, it is directed by Julia Ducournau, only the second female director to win the grand prize. So, that’s a rarity. And the movie is hyperviolent and involves a woman who has an unhealthy sexual attraction to automobiles. So, it’s not your typical cup of cinematic tea. This film is an extension of the French Extremist movement that includes fare like Martyrs, Interior, High Tension, Calvaire, and DuCournau’s own fabulous Raw.
For those of you who are not steeped in Scariest Things Lore, you may not know that I have a bit of an obsession for Ducournau and Raw. It is one of my absolute favorite horror films of the past decade. The cannibal film is one of the great coming-of-age horror films and has been part of a growing movement among young female European directors who have also given us films like Revenge (Coralie Fargeat dir.), Blue my Mind (Lisa Brühlmann dir), and Jumbo (Zoé Wittock dir). They all explore the awkward transformation into and the eventual empowerment of young womanhood, fully embracing the sexual power and fears of growing up.
I have been anxiously waiting to see what Ducournau was going to do next, but feared the dreaded sophomore jinx. So often spectacular debuts tap into years if not decades of ideas into their first films only to have the well run dry in their second outings. It appears that Raw was no fluke.
Titane would seem to be cut from the same cloth. Now, since The Scariest Things doesn’t have the resources to send me to Cannes, I cannot claim to have seen the film or pretend to know how the plot unfolds. But there are a couple of really good reviews that you can read from Nicholas Barber at the BBC, and Rafael Motamayor of Collider. Lord knows, when the time comes, you will get a review from the Scariest Things, and hopefully, we’ll get this film stateside soon so we can get access to it!
Here is the RED BAND trailer for those of you curious about the film. (it’s not technically rated yet, but this would be an R-Rated trailer)