Coré is a young woman living in Paris, afflicted with a strange malady which drives her to compulsively seek out sex–and then kill them in an orgy of biting and either vampirism or cannibalism (the film’s not entirely clear on this). Her husband Léo, a physician, endeavors to keep her trapped in their house to keep her from posing a danger to others, but to no avail. Shane and June Brown are a newlywed couple honeymooning in Paris, but Shane disappears for hours on end, seeking out a former medical colleague–and hiding a dark secret. Little does he know he’s destined to find more than he’s looking for…
Trouble Every Day, it has to be admitted, has a lot going for it. The direction, by celebrated French auteur Claire Denis, is striking and effective, presenting a poetic beautiful perspective on the City Of Lights. The story’s setup and themes are intriguing, and while the gore and violence are minimal, the effects are executed very well and should impress any die-hard gorehound. It’s all set to a languid, jazzy score by English indie-rock band Tindersticks.
Unfortunately, while the premise is sound, its execution really isn’t. This could have been a great movie about what lovers with seemingly insurmountable issues do to stay together, and by focusing on June and Léo it might have been that. Unfortunately Denis, who also co-wrote the screenplay, seems more interested in Shane and his search and Coré and her sexual pathology, and while the latter is interesting enough, the endless scenes of Shane searching out old associates and reminiscing about the past in obscure ways gets tiring.
There’s also a bit too much padding, including a B-plot that involves a pair of…I don’t know, exactly, who these characters are or why they’re trying to do what they do, but they’re staking out Léo and Coré’s house for some reason. (Once the plot is resolved, one of these characters disappears entirely from the movie and is never referred to again.) There’s a lot of vagueness and ambiguity here–there’s a lot in the IMDB summary of the film that I didn’t catch (although I wouldn’t suggest you read it, as it pretty much spoils the entire film)–and I feel the film would have worked better if things had been clearer.
The problem with Shane as a character is exacerbated by the actor playing him, the notorious enfant terrible Vincent Gallo. Gallo’s weak, mumbly performance ensures that Shane is one of the least compelling protagonists I’ve seen in a while. Tricia Vessey and Alex Descas do well as June and Léo, respectively, but their characters are drawn too thinly for the audience to care about. Of the primary cast, only Béatrice Dalle gets a strong character and puts in a strong performance–we know from Inside that she can bring great crazy, but I was impressed with her embodiment of pure feral sexuality. There are also a couple of fun supporting performances, in particular Hélène Lapiower as a lab assistant.
Overall, Trouble Every Day has enough going for it to make it watchable, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that it could be much improved by a different focus, or at least by changing the leading man. But we’re stuck with what we’ve got–and what we’ve got is a disappointment. A pretty and occasionally engaging disappointment, but still a disappointment.
100 minutes. Directed by Claire Denis. Starring Vincent Gallo, Tricia Vessey, Béatrice Dalle, Alex Descas.