Titane Director Julia Ducournau on Creating 2021’s Most Shocking Film

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No filmmaker working today makes movies quite like Julia Ducournau.

The writer-director’s critically acclaimed feature debut Raw is a lurid coming-of-age story that uses cannibalism as its central metaphor. Raw’s stylish visuals and cannibalistic violence may grab your attention, but it’s the film’s singular perspective and resonant themes that add bite.
Ducournau’s flamboyant follow-up, Titane, makes Raw look like A Charlie Brown Christmas.
Titane tells the story of Alexia (Agathe Rousselle), a cold-blooded young woman who has sex with a car, gets knocked up, and goes on a killing spree. The film’s second half sees Alexia hide from police by posing as a grieving father’s (Vincent Lindon) missing son.

With its bonkers plot, relentless violence, and gruesome body horror, Titane is one of the year’s most challenging movies. It’s also one of 2021’s most highly-praised films.

This past July, Ducournau became only the second woman ever (and first in 30 years) to earn Cannes’ top prize, the Palme d’Or. Last month Titane swept through TIFF, dazzling audiences and taking home TIFF People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award. And earlier today, Titane was chosen as France’s submission in the 2022 Oscars’ Best International Film category.

In reality, the film’s dark premise and tone serve up one big swerve. There’s a secretly sweet, life-affirming tale at the heart of this outlandish genre-bender. At its core, Titane is the story of two broken people giving each other what they need to feel whole. All the bloodshed and car sex are just shiny hood ornaments.

That Shelf spoke with Ducournau during Titane’s press tour. The conversation touches on Ducournau’s screenwriting method, casting Vincent Lindon, and shooting Titane during COVID.

Read Victor Stiff's entire interview with Ducournau.