With such films as "I Can't Sleep," "Nenette and Boni" and "Beau Travail," Claire Denis over the last decade has risen to the first rank of French directors with her incisive, sharply perceptive films. Her latest, "Trouble Every Day," however, is highly problematical. The trouble with "Trouble" is one of temperament. Denis' formality and seriousness make the horror genre a risky business for her, especially when sex is combined with outrageous gore. The essential solemnity of Denis and her regular co-writer Jean-Pol Fargeau makes repeated displays of lust and bloodshed seem faintly silly when they should seem powerfully, disturbingly allegorical. What's needed so badly but what is virtually absent here is either a saving dark humor or the feel of poetic tragedy. As a result, "Trouble Every Day" is unfortunately lots closer to Tony Scott's mediocre "The Hunger" than, for example, Georges Franju's classic "Eyes Without a Face."
When newlyweds Shane and June Brown (Vincent Gallo and Tricia Vessey) honeymoon in Paris, Shane has a decidedly ulterior motive. As a hotshot rep for an American pharmaceutical company, he had avidly pursued the rights to the findings of a Paris medical clinic researching the human libido. Much to his dismay, he learns that the key member of the team, Leo (Alex Descas) has been banished from the project for being too radical in his experimentation. Once Shane has tracked down Leo's home/laboratory, an elegant and imposing old stone manse in a town outside Paris, and comes face to face with Leo's wife, Core (Beatrice Dalle), it's clear that both she and Shane have been subjected to Leo's experiments. Both have had their sex drives revved up so high that they can't stop devouring the objects of their lust. It's no wonder that Leo has locked up his wife, much like "Jane Eyre's" Rochester imprisoned his demented spouse.
Obviously, Leo has failed to come up with a way of regulating his elixir or procedure, but Shane proceeds with the belief that there exists a research paper written by Leo that contains the answer to his potentially lethal lust. Or so it would seem, for "Trouble Every Day" is consistently hazy. Understandably, Shane craves some sort of respite to keep him from destroying his sweet, adoring bride, who, in turn, is understandably a bit bewildered by her husband's frequent extended absences during what is, after all, their honeymoon.
The sex and the gore get pretty explicit, and the entire film is so over the top that it drowns in a lurid and grisly bloodbath. "Trouble Every Day" is roughly half in English and half in French, with English subtitles, and Gallo, always a striking presence with his dark, intense gaze and gaunt, bony handsomeness, is just the actor to express plenty of the required haunted anguish.
Unrated. Times guidelines: fairly explicit sex and much gore.
'Trouble Every Day'
Vincent Gallo...Shane Brown
Tricia Vessey...June Brown
A Lot 47 release of a Messoud/a Film. Rezo Prods., Arte France Cinema, Dacia Films, Kinetique Inc. production in association with the participation of Canal Plus, Arte/ZDF, Rezo Films. Director Claire Denis. Producers Georges Benayoun, Jean-Michel Ray, Philippe Liegois. Screenplay by Denis and Jean-Pol Fargeau. Cinematographer Agnes Godard. Editor Nelly Quettier. Music Tindersticks. Costumes Judy Shrewsbury. Production designer Arnaud de Moleron. In English and French, with French subtitles. Running time: 1 hour, 42 minutes.
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