Titane, or the titanium of the title, refers to the metallic plate fitted in Alexia’s head after a car accident. Director Julia Ducournau doesn’t waste time on the tragedy. There is blood splattered on the back window. We see Alexia in surgery and then in recovery. Look out for unusual behaviour, the neurosurgeon cautions Alexia’s parents.

Once recovered and discharged from hospital, Alexia’s most intimate reunion is not with her parents, but with their car.

Years later, Alexia (Agathe Rousselle) is an exotic dancer performing at a motor show. Forced to go on the run after a series of events, Alexia reinvents herself by inflicting unimaginable pain on her body. This brings her in contact with fireman Vincent (Vincent Lindon).

Vincent’s emotional condition is fragile, in denial about a painful truth or consciously overlooking it to fill the chasm in his life. In turn, Alexia is experiencing multiple changes and new feelings. The progression of their bond, powered by Lindon and Rouselle’s performances, is the movie’s beating heart. With few words, they convey the depth of their pain. Music and dance gives them moments of respite.

Titane’s now infamous sex scene takes place early on in the 109-minute movie, but that’s not what plays in your mind after the end credits have rolled. You take away thoughts on family drama, the hand life deals and how love – of all kinds – can be found in the most unexpected places.

The French-language Titane, which won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2021, is out on MUBI. Ducournau, who has previously directed Raw, takes the less-is-more route. She chooses to be sketchy, outrageous and provocative while also exploring relatable themes, from found families to body horror and sexuality to modern fable. Just go along with the unexpected and judgment-free but sometimes shocking and often gory ride that is Titane.

Titane (2021).