Claire Denis | 2001 | 101 min | France
Trouble Every Day stars Vincent Gallo as Shane, a newlywed and a total fucking creep. He has traveled to France with his wife with the ulterior motive of tracking down a biologist who's research has labeled him a bit of a crackpot. Shane is sick and we have suspicions that his illness is not what one would call traditional. In flashes throughout the film, we see Shane possesses a blood-lust that has often overpowered him. He maintains the veneer of a successful man, but it does not take too long for anyone to feel the terrible desire lingering just under his surface. Beatrice Dalle appears as an old friend of Shane's, Core, who is suffering from a similar affliction and being. . . helped? held prisoner by?. . .her husband, the aforementioned biologist. Core does not seem able to contain her desire in the same way Shane manages too. She has given herself entirely to cannibalism to the point where she seems incapable of (or unwilling to) communicate beyond her most base instincts.
Both Dalle and Gallo are exceptional when it comes to looking like weirdo nutjob freakshows. They really get a chance to shine here, showing off their knack for creating discomfort in an audience through a lingering look or uncomfortable proximity to a stranger. Simply due to the aura they carry in any given movie, the mysterious aspects of their characters work very well. Gallo in particular is a highlight of this film.
Trouble Every Day tries to tread the same path as Ferrara and early Cronenberg, but can never manage to unpack it's ideas. Though possessing moments of great tension and horror, I'm not sure this is a movie I can recommend. It's not the violence or story content that I take issue with, it is the deathly slow pacing. It seems Denis tries to tilt the audience off balance with a deliberate and steady unease rather than the shocks of typical horror, but that only works for so long. The chosen course leaves far too much out of the film. There needs to be a lot more in the way of characterization or development for it to feel like more than just passing time. There are only a couple of moments where we are attacked with the visceral violence we might expect and the story only hints at the nature of their cannibalism. Is their affliction a curable illness? A controllable desire? A chosen perversion? Each idea could could make for an interesting plot, but the film never wants to commit to and explore any one idea.
At many times I found myself thinking I was watching the outtakes of an AMAZING movie. There is a great mood and some terrific scenes in Trouble Every Day, but there isn't enough substance to sink one's teeth into. See what I did there? WHAM-O!