"Titane": The Shocking and Controversial Winner of the Palme d'Or for the Best Film of 2021

The 74th edition of this ceremony gave us the celebration of a great film that shows that cinema, little by little, is taking its course again.

Frame from the movie 'Titane'

The French thriller-type film is written and directed by Julia Ducournau, who also became the first woman to win this competition alone. Photo: YT-KinoCheck International

LatinAmerican Post | Ariel Cipolla

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Leer en español: "Titane": la impactante y polémica ganadora de la Palma de Oro a la mejor película del 2021

The Cannes Festival is one of the best competitions for lovers of “good cinema”. The current edition had a great winner: "Titane", a French thriller-type film written and directed by Julia Ducournau, who also became the first woman to win this competition alone.

Recall that, for 1993, Jane Campion obtained it in association with Chen Kaige, for "Farewell My Concubine." This is also important since the official competition had 24 feature films when the usual thing is to have no more than 20. More than 30 films were left out of this competition, all in 12 days.

Well, this quality contest returned in style, since in the 2020 edition it could not be carried out due to the COVID-19 crisis. With a 40% smaller audience and accreditations, the level was high, crowning it with "Titane", a film that had a projection as controversial as it was acclaimed. Let's see why.

Also read: Latin America at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival

"Titane": the Palme d'Or

The first thing to mention is that the celebration itself was somewhat "bumpy." This happened because Spike Lee, renowned director of great films in the United States, revealed ahead of time who would be the winner of this contest. Lee is the president of the jury, so this statement ended up being true.

Now, the decision is well justified: "Titane" is a shocking movie. This work is about a serial killer, which includes really explicit and violent scenes, which caused some viewers to leave the room and even lose consciousness.

As the website Lenta portrayed, some present could not bear the "cruelty" that was exhibited in various scenes, to the point of vomiting or requiring immediate medical help. It is not the first time that something similar has happened in this genre, but it is true that it is one of the few times that it acquires so much notoriety in a festival of this magnitude.

Now, in addition to the visual impression that the realism of various ruthless scenes makes, the narrative itself is incredible. Our protagonist, Alexia, is an exotic dancer who captivates the audience. With a predominance of the slasher sub-genre, we come across a disturbing work, where nightmares related to the body and the savagery of brutality appear.

This is achieved thanks to the incredible direction of the French filmmaker, who manages to hook viewers from the first minute and wants to make it clear that her intention is to stand out and not go unnoticed. The script is accelerated, as a film with these characteristics should be, but also its own photography and even the soundtrack manage to combine with this genre.

It could even be said that it is a kind of "improvement" of what could be seen in "Crudo", her 2016 work that had also been very well received within the French terror. There is also some social criticism since the director herself makes a kind of condemnation of the culture of cars that objectify women, in this case, characterized by an androgynous protagonist.

On the other hand, the performances manage to convey to us the uncertainties and even the terrors of many of the characters. There, the talents of Vincent Lindon, Agathe Rousselle, Garance Marillier, and Laïs Salameh, among others, stand out, who manage to give verisimilitude to a story with touches of horror-fantastic.

Precisely, issues related to corporeality, feminism, sex, or blood allow us to compare it with some productions by highly prestigious directors, such as Cronenberg or Tarantino. However, Ducournau achieves her own style, with a film that does not seek to be pretentious, but that shines within its own universe.

Provocative, surprising, and shocking, "Titane" is not a movie for everyone. Horror lovers will find a work that has its own creative licenses, but that manages to polish this genre to the point of combining social criticism with fantasy cinema and brutal gore scenes.