2001 | France | Directed by Claire Denis
Logline: A newlywed couple honeymooning in Paris becomes embroiled in the dangerous studies of a doctor and his affected wife.
One of the most original and disturbing takes on cannibalism/vampirism ever made, Trouble Every Day is like a mutant-strain that floats like a butterfly and stings like a scorpion, a dark and confounding tale of sexual dysfunction and obsession from a cinema poet, who delivers cinema as frustrating as it is rewarding.
Shane Brown (Vincent Gallo) and his wife June (Tricia Vessey) are arriving in the City of Light on their honeymoon. During the plane journey Shane experiences a moment of intense anxiety whilst in bathroom, his mind swimming with thoughts of himself and his wife amidst blood-soaked carnality; it’s a frightening image. Back in his seat he cuddles with June, but it’s obvious Shane is a deeply troubled man.
Several other characters and their perspectives are introduced, a dazed drifter, Coré (Beatrice Dalle), on the outskirts of Paris. A doctor, Léo Semeneau (Alex Descas), with a criminal agenda, a young and curious hotel chambermaid, Christelle (Florence Loiret), and a couple of opportunist cat burglars with their own twisted goal. There are strange attractors at work in this interweaving tale of hunger and desire, with all four narrative arcs eventually colliding, one after another like a chain reaction, the tone becoming more and more tenebrous, until the devastating denouement.
Performances are strong, especially Tricia Vessey and Florence Loiret, with Vincent Gallo delivering yet another lugubrious performance, reciting his lines like he’s a bored student. He has screen charisma, yet his petulance fuels malaise in a difficult movie. This element is present in all Denis’ movies, right from her 1988 debut, Chocolat, a deeply evocative and languidly sensual tale of sexual ennui amidst African 50s colonialism, which remains a personal favourite.
Trouble Every Day (the title is taken from the lilting song which bookends the movie) is beautiful, erotic, morose and horrific in equal measures. Its carnality is first arousing, then grotesque. A graphic scene has Coré devour a lover - literally, while a love scene between Shane and June ends with him storming off and furiously masturbating, and another where the “eating” act of cunnilingus is taken to its most appalling extreme.
Humanity’s unease and the dark corners of the soul have always fascinated Denis, and she embraces subtlety, suggestion and diversion, frequently into indulgence, the elements of which, in the context of conventional horror movies, would frustrate most audiences. But it is these quieter, often lingering, more reflective moments, which give her films such a raw, poetic edge.
But make no mistake, Trouble Every Day, is no wistful play on love’s sweet boundaries, it bites hard and tears chunks, a precarious mélange of sensuality and depravity. Like a dream it undulates, but like a nightmare it whiplashes, an existential, psychosexual thriller in the most base, elusive, but undeniably provocative sense.