The Cannes Film Festival is one of the most prestigious events in the cinematic world and the Palme d’Or is its highest award, with past winners including Parasite, The Tree of Life, and The Pianist. This year’s winner, however, is something a little different.
Titane is an experimental horror film that is packed with sex and violence so confronting that it had some viewers fainting in their seats. At one recent screening of the film at the Sydney Film Festival, a spokesperson confirmed that 13 people had fainted in one viewing.
Titane follows Alexia, a woman who was in a serious car accident when she was younger, leaving her with a horrific skull injury where a titanium plate had to be fitted into her skull. When she’s older, the only physical remnant of the accident is a large scar across the side of her head, but the emotional remnants of the event have left a much larger impact.
Alexia begins murdering a number of people, including her own parents, which leads to her becoming wanted by the police. She decides to go on the run and disappears by stealing the identity of a boy who had gone missing 10 years earlier. In order for her to convincingly adopt this identity, Alexia smashes her face into a bathroom sink in a very graphic scene that is sure to make some moviegoers squirm. The scene can be argued as tame compared to some others throughout the movie that are far more graphic.
This is nothing new for director Julia Ducournau, who is only the second female director to win the Palme d’Or. Her films are well-known for their monstrous characters as well as their confronting and graphic content. Her previous film, Raw (2016), is arguably just as horrific, with reports that audience members had fainted at the screening of that film as well at the Toronto International Film Festival. Raw follows a young vegetarian woman who develops a hunger for human flesh, a desire that develops into a full-blown addiction that eventually consumes her every waking thought.
If you have the stomach for it, you can watch Titane in select cinemas and Raw on Netflix.