Now some may be wondering what a film that is so obviously entrenched in art house cinema is doing here in SGM's review section, especially when its write/director Claire Denis is perhaps more familiar to some for her involvement in productions like 'Down by Law', 'Wings of Desire' and her solo debut 'Chocolat'. Well. some of you may also be aware that her latest feature 'Trouble Every Day' takes the art house viewer very firmly by the hand into the dark world of the cannibal movie genre.
The film follows the thinly layered story of two couples, their bizarre predicaments and the deeply tragic (and bloody) paths that they both cross. Newly wed Americans Shane (the always exemplary laid back psychotic Vincent Gallo) and June (the gorgeously seductive Tricia Vessey) are in Paris for their honeymoon but the somewhat naive June doesn't realise that not only has Shane brought them there for more than just marital celebrations but so he can pursue his mysterious medical ailment. Whilst across town the sultry but ever so insane Core (played by art house boys wet dream Beatrice Dalle) is continuing her blood lust sexually charged assaults on unwitting strangers in order to sate her uncontrollable desire for human flesh. Attempting to keep her antics under wraps is her unfortunate but loyal doctor husband who tries (obviously unsuccessfully) to keep her under lock and key. As the film slowly progresses and the underlying tension starts to build you begin to wonder what exactly is the truth behind both Shane and Core's afflictions and what is the connection between them both?
'Trouble Every Day' is a hard movie to categorise (which isn't necessarily a bad thing) and with that in mind will no doubt have a hard time finding a base of welcoming viewers. On one hand the art house circle will initially delight in the slow ambience of the films initial stages, teasing them seductively in all the right art house cinema manners using stylish direction along with the ever present Euro art erotica tension. But the film soon reaches a point where some more unsuspecting delicate individuals will most definitely be offended by the deliciously graphic nature of the inevitable flesh eating violence. Whilst on the other hand, some viewers seeking a visceral horror edge will most likely be left hovering over the fast forward button during the opening stages but then those folk will lose any tension that is built upon during the early stages.
Myself, I gave this one every opportunity by settling back with an open mind and my experiences of enjoying both art house and horror cinema - was the film any good? Well yes and no. The small ensemble cast are impressive throughout (Gallo is always a treat and Vessey is simply captivating), Denis' direction is similarly sumptuous throughout also and whilst the pay off cannibal violence isn't of the Italian gut munching variety it is very visceral eye opening viewing. The problem I found with the film though was that I felt that the pacing was at times stretched a touch too far and whilst the deliberate nature of the paced revealing of the characters history was intriguing I felt that there wasn't enough revealed about the full history of the leads conditions and the story of its origins - sure its covered but there was room for more to be built upon there.
Of course, some may say that these grumbles are a small bag of peanuts in the big picture of the movie as a whole and you are very likely right, but it may also be such small things that could sway the derision or pleasure of either the art house or genre viewer. That said, I'm rambling - 'Trouble Every Day' will not be noted as a classic but as an interesting art house sideline to the cannibal genre it is of worthy of notice (in fact I found the film more gratifying on repeat viewings, its one of those films that gets under your skin and grows on you) and a commendable production from the very talented Denis.
Now how about this DVD release from Tartan? Well you certainly can't fault the excellent anamorphic transfer which is sharp and colourful throughout and comes with both optional English subtitles (this French production does contain a lot of English dialogue but rightly some native banter too) as well as optional 5.1 surround and 2 channel stereo audio too (so you can choose how you want to kick back with Tindersticks laid back score). The extra features though are sadly lacking as apart from the expected text filmography pages and some nice enough Film Notes by Sloan Freer all that really is on offer is a trailer for the film itself and a selection of trailers for Tartan's World Cinema line (including the much anticipated Irreversible), so sadly the advertised directors audio commentary (which is still listed on the cover) is nowhere to be found.
But at the end of the day it is (or at least should be) the film that we are here for and Tartan's presentation of 'Trouble Every Day' is a vastly impressive one (albeit in a bare bones package). The film will most definitely not be to everyones liking (more so as its slipping across genres) but the savvy genre fan will perhaps want to check this one out.
Review by Alan Simpson
|Released by Tartan|
|Rated 18 - Region All (PAL)|
|Trailers, Text pages|