Titane is a 2021 psychological-thriller drama directed by Julia Ducournau. The plot follows a girl who suffers a head injury and has a titanium plate inserted into her skull. Following this, she acquires a bizarre attraction to automobiles. This film is not an easy watch, so heads up. The film leaves you full of questions, and I’ve put together my understanding of the film. Please let me know your perspective in the comments section. Here’s the plot and ending of the movie Titane explained; spoilers ahead.
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Where To Watch?
To find where to stream any movie or series based on your country, use This Is Barry’s Where To Watch.
Oh, and if this article doesn’t answer all of your questions, drop me a comment or an FB chat message, and I’ll get you the answer. You can find other film explanations using the search option on top of the site.
Here are links to the key aspects of the movie:
Titane: Plot Explained
I didn’t view Titane literally and hence would like to take a stance on the film’s sci-fi tag. Like Take Shelter, the sci-fi genre is associated with the film but it is for metaphorical purposes. Meaning, none of those impossible things we see in Titane are actually happening. With this, let’s walk through the plot.
Titane: What does it mean?
Titane in French means Titanium, an extremely strong metal used in machines. Unlike other inert metals like Iron, Titanium has certain toxicity associated with it. And these properties summarize Alexia’s character in the movie – she’s a strong person but, like a machine, is devoid of any human emotions, which has made her a serial killer. David Guetta’s track ft. Sia, Titanium, uses the metal in the same metaphorical way, “I’m bulletproof, nothing to lose, fire away, fire away!”.
What happened to Alexia?
Apart from the obvious Titanium added to her skull after that horrible accident, we need to speculate about Alexia’s past. From that car trip, it is evident that the father and daughter share a terrible relationship, possibly abusive. Much before the accident, the history of sexual abuse has already made Alexia cold and self-destructive. The accident adds physical trauma to her head along with mental.
What do cars represent in the film?
It appears that motor vehicles represent the source of trauma, and Alexia is drawn to them as she has chosen a path of self-destruction. A car was responsible for the physical trauma to her head. The driver of that car, her father, is responsible for her emotional trauma. Being drawn to motor vehicles is a metaphor for going back to her father despite his abuse, like a moth drawn towards a flame.
Years after the accident, Alexia has become an exotic dancer at motor shows. She continues to live with her parents. Her mom is oblivious (or in denial) to what’s happening between Alexia and her father over the years.
Titane: Why does she kill?
Her history makes Alexia devoid of emotions, filled with rage, causing her to kill. The metal hairpin that we are shown Alexia wearing is her killing weapon. When the stalker attacks Alexia in the car, she kills him with precision telling us that this is not her first time. The news on TV talks about other people found dead in similar circumstances. While not shown on screen, Alexa disposes the body from the parking lot else the car would have led the cops right back to her.
In the following scenes, we see Alexia make out with a coworker. Notice how Alexia is not attracted to the girl but only to the metal on her nipple. Soon she kills her coworker and two other guys at their house brutally. One woman flees after knocking Alexia against the wall. While not shown on screen, this girl likely informs the cops, and that’s how they trace the murders to Alexia. Why does she kill them? We don’t know, but by this point Alexia has become erratic and attacks people she considers to be a threat to her.
Alexia also murders her parents by locking them in and setting the house on fire. She is done with her current life, and because the cops are after her, she cuts her hair, breaks her nose and approaches the authorities claiming to be a missing kid, Adrien.
Titane: How does a car make Alexia pregnant?
Yes, the WTF question that’s on everyone’s mind! The sex with the car is a metaphor. The vehicle is a stand-in for the source of trauma. Alexia’s father is a more likely candidate to have gotten her pregnant. She continues to live with her parents, and in an event off-screen, he possibly abused her sexually. In that scene where Alexia’s mother asks her to get her belly checked by the father, she grabs his hands and asks him to go lower, but he leaves. This is indicative of a previous event not shown on screen.
The other possibility is Alexia was sexually assaulted by somebody from one of her motor shows – an alternate source of sexual trauma.
If you notice all the fluids connected to reproduction, they are replaced by motor oil. That’s how Alexia sees it. She doesn’t see blood or milk; she visualizes only motor oil, an operational need for every machine. This shows how disconnected she is from her human self and body and how machine-like she feels.
How is it possible to hide a pregnancy like that?
It’s important to know that the events in the film are nowhere near real-time. There are tons and tons of moments off-screen which we never get to see. While it looks like Alexia is having a sped-up pregnancy like in the film Old, the events we see are spread over 8 months. Alexia hides her pregnancy and the fact that she’s a woman using taping more effectively in the early stages. Later on, it would have become complicated to hide it or even step out without a loose jacket. I’m sure enough people were talking behind Vincent’s back that his fat son is probably a girl. One of them even tries to bring this up, but Vincent doesn’t want to hear it.
Who is Vincent, and What happened to Adrien, his son?
Vincent is a man who regrets losing his son Adrien a decade ago. While the authorities have given up and closed the case for lack of evidence, we can speculate on the past. Adrien was either run away or murdered.
There are two visuals about Adrien that stood out:
- The pictures of him wearing a woman’s dress.
- The vision of a burning child that Vincent sees in one of the fire-fighting sessions.
It appears that Adrien might have come across as either gay or trans to Vincent and his wife and Vincent detested this. He might have done things to man Adrien up which led to Adrien running away. A darker theory is based on that vision of a burning kid that Vincent hallucinates. Perhaps, Vincent killed his son. And this is why he has been punishing himself by continuing to live in the same house with Adrien’s room intact – the guilt. And maybe this is why Vincent doesn’t care to do a DNA test to confirm if this person is his real son. Also, Vincent tells Alexia, “You’ll always be my son. Whoever you are”. Vincent possibly lived in guilt for murdering his son, and when someone came claiming to be Adrien, he accepted it without a thought. All he wants is a second chance.
Vincent’s ex-wife doesn’t seem to believe that Alexia posing to be Adrien is actually her son. She is clear that she doesn’t want to do anything with this person. When she walks in on Alexia, she realizes that the imposter is a pregnant woman. All she asks from Alexia in that moment is to take care of Vincent.
Titane Ending Explained
The ending of Titane shows Alexia giving birth to a titanium-spined baby, with Vincent being the wet nurse. As she does, Alexia’s skin rips to reveal an inner Titanium lining. The strain of the delivery causes her head plate to give way, and she succumbs. Vincent hold’s the baby and repeatedly says, “I’m here,” and the film comes to a close.
WTF is probably the thought that went through your head. Mine too.
What do the visuals mean? Titanium is in her body and soul. Her path of self-destruction, thanks to her father, leads her to bleed out and die in a stranger’s bed. By the end, she had become a [metaphorically] hollow Titanium shell, clueless as to why she has been living the way she has, killing the way she has. But she didn’t die alone. A stranger playing her father figure was beside her.
The baby with a titanium spine is a metaphor for a strong infant. The newborn has been through a lot, just like its mother. But it’s here now, alive and resilient. Vincent lost a son because Adrien didn’t conform to what Vincent defined as normal. He adopts a stranger as his own and vows to love her/him unconditionally and loses her but ends up with a grandchild who he will raise as his own (if the law permits it).
Other themes explored in the film are…
Finding family in a stranger
Vincent loathed his own son because Adrien didn’t fit his definition of normal. A decade later, Vincent accepted a woman to be his son; his definitions didn’t matter to him. Alexia was disgusted by her parents yet continued to live with them but finally found a father in Vincent, to whom she even says, “I love you”. She proceeds to make out with him, and Vincent steps back. This is sad because a lifetime of abuse by her father leads her to believe love and sex are synonymous.
Being trapped in your body
Vincent feels trapped in his ageing body and does everything he can to keep himself able and fit. He’s been pumping himself with steroids. Alexia finds herself trapped in a human body and her abuse has her behave like a machine. She exists with no purpose, killing people at will. The little solace she finds is in being a son to a stranger. There is a lot that the film goes into regarding the objectification of women (exotic dancers for a motor show), toxic masculinity (the other firemen), and more to write an entire other article.
What were your thoughts on the plot and ending of Titane? What were the other themes that you spotted in the film? Do drop your thoughts in the comments below.
Barry is a technologist who helps start-ups build successful products. His love for movies and production has led him to write his well-received film explanation and analysis articles to help everyone appreciate the films better. He’s regularly available for a chat conversation on his website and consults on storyboarding from time to time.
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