I’m married, that means I find myself in trouble most days!
Written By: Claire Denis & Jean-Pol Fargeau
Directed By: Claire Denis
I had to chew on, no pun intended, Trouble Every Day for a day or so before my thoughts on the film began to crystallize. My initial thoughts varied between loving the film and thinking that it ultimately said nothing new and was a meandering effort. That’s a large divide and that’s why I knew I needed to allow Claire Denis’ film some time to rumble around in my brain. And rumble Trouble Every Day did and by the time my brain had sufficiently processed the film I had come to a typical, for me at least, off kilter sort of conclusion.
To keep it simple, I loved Trouble Every Day. It’s an odd horror film, one that has no interest whatsoever in being scary or cavorting with the typical horror tropes. Mademoiselle Denis brews up a completely different brand of horror in Trouble Every Day. Her horror is dependent on the faces of her actors, on their eyes, and on the contrast between fantasy and reality. The lines are blurred so much in Trouble Every Day that the basic ideas of story and plot are tossed out the window in favor of a movie that slinks along as if it were a predatory beast driven to go wherever its urges may lead it.
It is true that when all is said and done Trouble Every Day didn’t have much in the way of new thoughts to bring to the sexuality table. But, just as much value can be found in the exploration of what is already known as can be found in a startlingly new revelation. Trouble Every Day doesn’t turn the idea of sexual desire on its head, but it does explore the well trodden territory in an interesting way. I liked that Mademoiselle Denis eschewed the traditional vampire route, instead opting for cannibalism. There’s almost always a romanticism and over sexualization to the vampires that are used as surrogates for explorations of sexuality. The cannibals we are allowed to watch at play in Trouble Every Day are quite different. They are not sexually powerful, and they most certainly are not romantic. If anything they are impotent, forced to count on the actions of others to placate their own wanton desires.
I have heard, and can understand, the argument that Trouble Every Day is too erotic. I do not agree with that assessment. At its core I believe that Mademoiselle Denis crafts Trouble Every Day as a film that takes a cold view of the sexual proclivities on the screen. There is nothing erotic about the way the camera captures sex in Trouble Every Day. There is a leer from the point of view of Vincent Gallo’s Shane, but he is a character who leers at the objects he wishes to devour. Béatrice Dalle, as Coré, is shown by the camera to be an animal in a cage. Thus, the camera never shows her in an erotic way, but rather as a wild animal who has finally caught her prey. Trouble Every Day uses the idea of what is normally erotic to show how far removed from erotic the lives of its main characters have become.
I really do think Trouble Every Day is something special. It’s a horror movie unwilling to play by the standard horror rules. It’s a movie about sex that doesn’t feel the need to be erotic in the traditional sense of the word. Claire Denis is a filmmaker who loves to live in the sparse spaces of existence. In Trouble Every Day Mademoiselle Denis picks a place in between fantasy and reality and she allows life to happen. Trouble Every Day is raw, it is horrific, and it is a film that is easy to devour.