Trouble Every Day
Dir: Claire Denis
Claire Denis isn’t the first filmmaker you might associate with the vampire/cannibalism horror sub-genre but she just so happens to have made one of the best films in the category. That said, 2001’s Trouble Every Day isn’t quite a vampire film or a film about cannibalism. It is a horror but not in the classical sense. It’s a strange one and a bit of a slow-burner but worth the wait in my opinion. I love Vincent Gallo, even though he is frightening weirdo, he’s perfectly cast in many respects. It follows Gallo who plays Doctor Shane Brown and wife June (Tricia Vessey) as they travel to Paris on holiday. June believes it is their honeymoon but Shane has an ulterior motive to track down an old friend – Dr. Léo Sémeneau (played by Alex Descas), a neuroscientist and his wife, Coré, whom he once was obsessed with. It seems his recent marrage to June has triggered something and, as well as catching up with his old friend, he feels drawn to Coré (played by the stunning Béatrice Dalle). Nothing is really explained, we know little about any of the characters and the audience is left to fill in many of the blanks but if you give it your full attention, you will become transfixed by it. I generally hate existential films but this one held my attention because as slow as the story was, there is something uniquely watchable about both Gallo and Dalle. We learn that Léo is now working as a General practitioner to keep a low profile. He locks Coré up in their house every day due to her ‘condition’ – something that is never explained until we see her escape and violently murder some men. It seems to be a regular occurrence, with many escape attempts and many murders. To protect her, Léo buries the bodies himself. It takes a while for the film to kick in, it’s all very mysterious and unpredictable, so when two burglars break into Leo’s home and find Coré locked up and alone – leading to their very gory deaths, following a raunchy sex scene – you could be forgiven for giving up on the film. Personally it was a twist to embrace, it came from out of know where and got the story going but I can see why a few would ask more from the time they had already invested. Coré’s condition is never explained, it’s not really vampirism but it could be included in the genre, and the same could be said for cannibalism but personally I see her condition being more symbolic. I think there is an exploration of ownership, of addiction and of obsession. It’s a raw venture and its existential nature won’t be to everyone’s taste but for me it is a rare example of it actually working for the benefit of the story. Shane arrives at the house just as Coré has murdered the two intruders. She is covered in blood and emotionless. She sets the house on fire but her intentions are unknown, its impossible to tell whether she is remorseful, suicidal or mad. However, upon seeing him, she becomes enraged and desperately tries to bite him until he manages to overpower and strangle her, leaving her to burn with the house. Leo arrives just in time to watch her burn. The relationships between the characters is unspoken and all the more fascinating because of it. The most revealing part of the film is also it’s most puzzling moment. As later that day, Shane becomes strange and distant, stopping in the middle of sex with his wife and finishing by masturbating, running away from her and adopting a puppy from a nearby pet shop. Finally he returns to the hotel where he has sex with a maid, eventually biting her to death in her nether-regions. I think it can all be interpreted in many different ways but personally I think it is making comment on obsession - self-obsessed to be specific and the various versions there are of betrayal related to pretty much everything we do. Self-victimization. I could be wrong though. Either way, it is the thinking persons horror, not easy to watch but rewarding if you let it.