Titane: Julia Ducournau’s ‘psychosexual thriller’ just took home the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival

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Lauren Geall
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Julia Ducournau at Cannes after winning the Palme d'Or for Titane

Julia Ducournau’s Titane took home the coveted Palme d’Or award at last nights awards ceremony, marking the end of the 2021 Cannes Film Festival.

After 12 days of exciting red carpet moments, standing ovations and film-related buzz, the 2021 Cannes Film Festival has officially come to an end with its annual awards ceremony.

Judged by the festival’s competition jury, made up of names including Spike Lee, Mati Diop, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Jessica Hausner, the ceremony saw awards go to a number of the festival’s most popular films, including the rock-opera musical Annette.  

But no film captured the attention of the judges quite like Julia Ducournau’s Titane, which took home the festival’s top award, the Palme d’Or. 

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In winning the coveted award, which recognises the best film shown at the festival, Ducournau becomes the second woman to receive the Palme d’Or – and the first woman to win it alone.

However, this isn’t the only reason why Ducournau’s win is making headlines this morning (18 July). It’s also attracting attention because the film’s win was announced accidentally at the top of the ceremony – by none other than the competition jury president, Spike Lee.

And that’s not forgetting the fact that Titane, which is Ducournau’s second feature, has split critical opinion, too. The psychosexual thriller-slash-horror tells the story of Alexia (Agathe Rousselle), a car show dancer who lives with a titanium plate in her head from a childhood car crash caused by her father. And that’s where the ‘normal’ bit ends. 

Julia Ducournau with Spike Lee after her win at the Cannes film festival.
Julia Ducournau with Spike Lee after her win.

You see, when one of the men at Alexia’s show pushes himself onto her, she murders him – the start of a journey that will see her transform into a serial killer. But that’s not the most notable part of the film’s plot – after she makes her first kill, Alexia has a sexual encounter with her car which brings some… peculiar consequences.

On the run from the police, Alexia turns to gruesome means to transform her appearance and pass herself off as a missing boy, whose father then takes her in. And that’s not even half of it.

You can watch the trailer for the film below to get a sense of what it’s about: 

As you can see, Titane’s general vibe is very unapologetic and in-your-face – so it’s no surprise that the film has garnered such attention from the festival’s jury.

For now, then, we’ll just have to wait and see whether Titane follows in the footsteps of the last Palme d’Or winner – Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite, which later took home the award for Best Picture at the Oscars. Titane may be divisive, but it’s certainly getting attention.  

Titane is yet to get a definite UK release date, although we do know it is coming at some point

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Lauren Geall

As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and work. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time.