Titane Was The Hardest Script Julia Ducournau Has Written So Far In Her Career

Julia Ducournau burst onto the scene with her feature directorial debut, 2016's "Raw," a film in which a young woman and lifelong vegetarian studying to become a veterinarian develops a hunger for human flesh. Somehow, Ducournau was able to top the bizarreness of that movie's premise with the setup for her second movie, "Titane." However, its script was a tricky nut to crack, for reasons that go beyond what's on the written page.

In an interview for Variety's Awards Circuit Podcast, Ducournau talked about the challenges she faced while penning her sophomore feature, including her struggle to connect with the story's protagonist Alexia: a motor car showgirl who's felt an erotic attraction to cars ever since she was in a vehicular accident as a child and got a titanium plate fitted into her head. (Did I mention she's also a serial killer?) Yet, the hardest part for Ducournau was having to deal with the expectations that came after her breakout success with "Raw":

"When it's your first feature, no one expects anything, because no one even knows you exist. So this is something that I struggled with very much I also struggled with my own expectations. As far as my second film was concerned, I felt that I had given everything I had to 'Raw' and I was afraid that I didn't have anything else to give to another film, and especially love. And so that was something that took a long time to find in me."

Ducournau's Plans For the Future

Far from suffering the sophomore slump common among directors, Ducournau has seen her career continue to thrive with "Titane." The movie has received rave reviews and won the Palme d'Or at 2021's Cannes Film Festival, making Ducournau the second woman to win the prize after Jane Campion ("The Power of the Dog") took home the honor in 1993 for "The Piano."

As for the future, Ducournau seemed open to the idea of making an English-language film, telling Variety:

"I think that English is a way more action-driven language. So for me, it would be very interesting. I'm already very much action driven."

She's not wrong about that. "Titane" is powered by its visuals and wild scenarios more than its dialogue, which isn't to say the film grinds to a halt when people start talking. (On the contrary, one of its most memorable scenes involves a character discussing the Macarena, of all things.) It's also a shockingly heartfelt movie at its core, as /Film's Hoai-Tran Bui noted in her review, and proves that Ducournau's skills extend beyond crafting potent horror metaphors about desire and transformation.

And I wouldn't worry about Ducournau losing her edge, should she make the leap into the world of American cinema. She's far more likely to follow in the footsteps of Park Chan-wook (the South Korean filmmaker who shares her passion for bloody and brutal yet deeply emotional stories) and helm an English-language movie like "Stoker" than, say, a franchise film.