Agathe Rousselle stars as Alexia/Adrien, a superhero-like badass ‘pregnant’ woman in Titane. Director Julia Ducournau picked up the top prize, the Palme d’Or at Cannes for this French action film. Vincent Lindon plays Vincent, a fire department chief happy to have his long-lost son, Adrien, back in his life or at least a replacement son. The film takes its title from the titanium Alexia has inside of her head from a childhood car accident; Titane is the French translation.
Modern French films have routinely surprised me. Portrait of a Lady on Fire is a magnificent film. Lost Bullet was my introduction to French Action. Titane fits in well as a compelling movie for broad audiences. Due to the nature of the action and Adrien being mostly mute, there are a lot fewer subtitles to read than you may be expecting. The action choreography is fantastic and does not rely on camera trickery. All of this is overlaid on a compelling story that dives into loss and what family truly means, but not in the Fast and Furious way. This film does go places with cars that the Fast and Furious Universe still has not.
The film is a compelling study of loss in the Vincent/Adrien relationship. Adrien’s mom makes an appearance and recognizes that her ex-husband has clung to this stranger. Adrien’s search for a replacement family is less clear but, she does start to form some bonds. In the queer community chosen family happens a lot. There is a queer reading to this film that could be explored but, it portrays a chosen family in a way that all audiences can understand. A marriage is a chosen family, the only family that is thrust on a person is a parent-child relationship.
There is no getting around that this is a strange film. While you should be enjoying it, there are weird parts that highlight the Frenchness of the film. It is part art piece, but the action never truly stops. Make sure to give yourself sometime after the credits roll to pause and reflect. You are going to question what you just saw, but it will not be for a lack of enjoyment.