In the brilliant second feature of Julia Ducornau, a prodigiously predatory young woman comes up against the mercy of others.
When I reviewed “Raw,” the first feature from 2016 dedicated to cannibalism, I called it “shockingly well made” and said the filmmaker was “clearly destined for mainstream success.” I was in if his hunger takes him away.” Not a terrible guess based on technical and artistic achievement, but hardly a presenter either. Those hungers have carried him in the blood of violence, into the spiritual realm of the Stygian darkness.
“Titan”‘s heroine, Alexia (Agathe Roussel), is a monster by any decent measure—the gleaming stiletto she kept on top isn’t a fashion statement. And the filmmaker doesn’t seem to care about why Alexia kills—whether it’s a matter of nature, nurture or not—though her anger clearly has a sexual component. (In one scene of self-sexuality, Alexia enjoys herself on the roof of a sedan at a car show.) It is equally clear that her compulsion to inflict pain on others equals her need to impose it on herself. Is.
By now you may not have figured out a compelling reason to seek out “Titan.” But there’s another dimension to the film, which was brilliantly photographed by Ruben Impens, and which can best be described as the spawn of Eric Zonka’s 1998 “The Dreamlife of Angels,” about the power of kindness. in an excellent French-language play, and “Rosemary’s Infant.”
Kindness is Alexia’s kryptonite, the only thing that can stop her in her diabolical tracks. Its source is, improbably, a veteran firefighter, Vincent (Vincent Lyndon), who is tortured in his turn, but a man who saves lives rather than ends them. I won’t tell you how they meet, or why they stay connected; If I had done that you wouldn’t believe that a mad match like him could sustain a credible narrative. But it presents questions in the process that aren’t crazy at all. Can illusions nourish the soul? Where does Vincent’s confused thinking begin and end? Can good come from evil, or was Alexia always more human than we thought? For more questions, instead of answers, see “Titan”. If you can see it.
Joe Morgenstern at [email protected]