Titane is a film about human evolution, identity, and connection. This unique film is so much more than you'd imagine.
Sources in this Episode: What TITANE is really about | Explained Titane Prove No One Has a Body transequality.org
Media from this week's episode:
Following a series of unexplained crimes, a father is reunited with the son who has been missing for 10 years.
The Human Evolution of Body, Mind & Soul in Titane by Gabe Castro
RED: Quotes, someone else's words.
Today’s film is about sexy cars and wild rides. But at the heart, it’s about family. No, I am not talking about the Fast & Furious franchise.
Titane follows Alexia/Adrien as they find themselves. This journey and transformation inspires the next step in human evolution, combats patriarchal gender norms, and highlights the importance of found family. We are introduced to Alexia when they are young, riding in the backseat of the car they hum along to the sounds of the roaring engine. Their father is obviously annoyed and turns the music up louder. Alexia then kicks his chair. They then unbuckle their seatbelt and goes to move, resulting in their father taking their eyes off the road and causing an accident. Alexia is then seen with a titanium plate in their head and a brace. This marriage between metal and their physical body is important. They seemed to always have some connection to cars (given the humming) but it’s only made stronger when they have metal in their body. Alexia leaves the hospital and immediately strokes the car and hugs it.
Flashforward, Alexia works as a dancer at a car show. They dance seductively on top of beautifully detailed cars for a crowd of men. These men think they have some ownership over the performers (ain’t that the way) and one man follows Alexia out after the show is over. This man throws himself onto Alexia, by their reactions it seems to be something that happens often. Alexia, in viscous self-defense, murders this man by way of a chopstick to the ear. This adrenaline rush leads Alexia back into the car show area where they then…have sex with a car. It’s a peculiar scene but there’s no question about what’s happening.
Alexia is then believed to be pregnant, with a car baby? A monster? A ghost? And while exploring their sexuality further, end up on a bit of a killing spree. It’s comical and odd, like most of this film but it serves to paint a soulless, careless, and monstrous Alexia. Desperate after the murders that seemed to keep piling up, they kill their parents and then run away. They change their appearance and assume the identity of a missing boy.
This choice leads Alexia to become Adrien, the son of Vincent, an overly masculine empty shell of a man who has been seeking something to fill the void his son’s disappearance left. Over the rest of the film, we watch as Vincent embraces this obvious imposter, understanding that this isn’t Adrien but they are still his son. Alexia/Adrien become themselves, exploring their identity and growing out of the isolated and broken life they’d been forced to live with their real parents. With this newfound family, Adrien is given the space to evolve. As their stomach grows, their gender identity, humanity, and more force them and Vincent to confront their own biases and expectations.
Masculinity/Feminity/Humanity - Metamorphasis of Gender Identity
In the beginning, Alexia is an incredibly sexualized femme body. She appears to derive pleasure from the experience of dancing. Connecting and performing on top of this vehicle gives her a freedom she is denied in other venues. However, she is never overly feminine. After the accident, her head is shaved for the plate which gives young Alexia the appearance of a young boy. In adulthood, they sport a mullet and when not dancing scantily clad on cars, they wear gender-neutral clothing.
After their intimate act with the car, Alexia is pregnant. Not wanting to share this information, they begin binding their body to hide the growth. Binding is a process many with gender dysphoria may use to form their body into the shape they know their body should be. Throughout this film, there are many gender-specific actions that occur in contradictory ways to gender expectations. At one point, Vincent shaves Adrien’s face explaining that it’ll help the hair grow.
In a video by The Oscar Expert on Youtube, What TITANE is really about | Explained, they explain the interesting evolution of Alexia/Adrien’s gender ambiguity.
“As she becomes more and more disconnected from who she is and experiences gender dysphoria, the feeling that her body does not match her gender identity. That is where the body horror genre comes into play. It expresses this disconnect from one's body and one's gender as a horrifying experience. She cannot control the changes her body is undergoing, even as her identity moves away from that, but it's not that Alexia wants to be a man necessarily. We see later when she's dancing on the firetruck how that feminine part of her still exists, and that she wants Vincent and others to see it. Gender identity for her is often just this burden…The way others perceive her gender affects so much about the way she goes about the world how she can be loved.”
Both Alexia and Vincent suffer from body dysmorphia and in constant battles against society’s gender expectations of them. There’s a scene where Alexia is on a bus as Adrien. They are seated across the aisle from a woman. In the back, there is a group of boys who begin harassing the woman. There’s discomfort on Adrien’s face but they don’t intervene. They experience for a moment, the freedom of not being disrespected for existing while passing as male.
For Vincent, he is someone who is at the mercy of masculinity. He uses steroids to push his body and transform it into the masculine figure he feels he needs to be. Though always cast in a purple/pink light, he exudes rugged male energy. He is also soft and kind, he dances and sings. The obsession with muscle to the point of hurting himself is a symptom of gender dysmorphia as well.
In an article on Them titled, Titane Prove No One Has a Body, Author Sasha Geffen explains that the film goes farther than simply telling a trans story. We don’t have one gender that is supposed to be another, instead there are no genders to be had at all.
“Ducournau’s imagery reframes tropes of transphobic cinema to illuminate the monstrosity of all gendered bodies, cis or otherwise. She suggests that transness is not a contained error within an otherwise pristine system, but the key to understanding what it means to have a body in the first place. All humans twist disobedient flesh into communicative social forms. Everyone falls short of gender’s fragile scaffolding in life, and everyone ultimately denatures into entropy through death. These failures and collapses don’t indicate a deficiency in humanity; they are central to what it means to be human. In Titane, there is no such thing as a transgender body because there is no such thing as a cisgender body.”