One day in mid-October, I saw two movies, both of them about female serial killers, and both directed by women. But they couldn’t possibly have been more different. For one thing, one was among the very best movies of the year, while the other, was one of the worst.
The former film is Titane, a stunning film out of France. Directed by French filmmaker Julia Ducournau, who previously made the cannibalism horror movie Raw, Titane is one of the most shocking, visually stunning movies made in recent memory. It takes an absolutely humongous swing, and it connects with force.
Titane is the story of a woman named Alexia (Agathe Rousselle). As a child, she’s in a car accident that results in her getting a titanium plate implanted in her head. The combination of the accident and the plate give her a lifelong sexual connection to cars.
As an adult, Alexia is a punk-ish looking model at car shows, with a weakness for impaling male admirers with a sharp hairpin. It’s been joked before that the implication is the models want to fuck the cars, but in this case, that’s what literally happens — resulting in pregnancy.
It takes an absolutely humongous swing, and it connects with force
So she’s pregnant — by a car — and also, she’s committed quite a few grisly killings. So to hide out, she comes up with an unorthodox plan to impersonate a boy who had been missing for a decade. This involves going to live with the boy’s father (Vincent Lindon), a fire captain who resembles a French Chris Meloni. The film then takes an abrupt change in tone, as this punk serial killer movie suddenly becomes the empathetic tale of a father who needs a child and a child who needs a father.
I heard the rapturous notices about Titane from film festivals and from other critics, but I was skeptical. I wasn’t wild about Raw, I never enjoy body horror, and the premise didn’t sound that enticing when I first heard about it. But, Titane, which is still in theaters, is one of the most exhilarating and entertaining films of the year.
The Other Side of the Coin
Then there’s Me You Madness, which is none of those things.
The film, which is streaming on Peacock, was written, directed by, and stars Louise Linton; the Scottish actress who is best known as the wife of Trump-era Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin. Me You Madness, while showing that the auteur theory isn’t bad after all, is a wildly misconceived vanity project that fails in just about every way possible.
Linton stars as a female financial titan who also happens to be a serial killer. And if you think this sounds like a clear ripoff of American Psycho, Linton has anticipated this, including a meta voiceover in which she acknowledges that yes, it is that.
A wildly misconceived vanity project that fails in just about every way possible
Nothing especially funny happens at any point, and eventually, the film settles into a romantic plot, in which a con man (former Gossip Girl star and accused rapist Ed Westwick) rents a room in her giant Malibu mansion. The two fall in love, even though they both seem to know that the other wants to rob or kill them.
Do you know those movies in which the camera constantly leers on the boobs, legs, and ass of the female lead, to the point where it’s obvious that the director is in love with her? That’s the case with Me You Madness, except that the lead actress IS the director.
There was once a period of a couple of years in which Steven Mnuchin, along with Brett Ratner, financed Warner Bros’ entire slate of films. That led to some not-so-great movies, yet none of those were anywhere close to as bad as Me You Madness.
CULTURE (counter, pop, and otherwise) and the people who shape it.