Trouble Every Day Review

Shane Brown (Vincent Gallo) is a young American scientist, tormented with violent sexual nightmares and a ravenous bloodlust. He arrives in Paris on his honeymoon and tries to get in touch with a former colleague, Dr. Léo Sémeneau (Alex Descas), an experimental brain scientist, but the doctor has disappeared. The doctor’s wife, Coré (Béatrice Dalle) meanwhile, seems to be victim to the same condition and is on the loose on an unstoppable orgy of sex and murder.

It’s very difficult to say too much about the plot of Trouble Every Day without giving too much away. Not because there are many twists and surprises in the film, but just the slow piecing together of what is going on is one of the few pleasures available in this controversial and somewhat disturbing film. The film relies largely on mood and pacing, and here it cannot be faulted. The sultry, spiraling string arrangements and thrumming acoustic bass on an original score provided by Tindersticks, carry the film along with a slow, menacing, edgy sense of unease, building up to a gruesome and bloody finale. Rather like Denis’ last film Beau Travail, the film is founded on the delicate unfolding of events, gradually revealing the characters more through their expressions and actions than through words. In Trouble Every Day however, there is not much plot in evidence, nor is there any great depth to the characters (much like Beau Travail in my opinion). None of the actors have more than a handful of lines to deliver and Béatrice Dalle (Betty Blue) must have all of six words in the film, but admittedly the images, mood and expressions of the actors speak for themselves. Dalle maintains an effective hypnotic, almost animal-like presence throughout the film – a predator in search of prey, while Gallo gives an intense performance, looking tormented and dangerous without overplaying.

This is a French produced DVD, and that usually means that care and attention has gone into the transfer of the film. This M6 release of Trouble Every Day is no exception.

The quality of the picture transfer is superb. Although it obviously can’t match the digital perfection of something like Vidocq, to score the picture anything less than 10 would imply that there are minor faults or imperfections when there are none at all. No marks, no digital artefacts – just deep, strong colours and fine tones. Even dark scenes, while occasionally grainy, fare very well indeed and contain good detail – rather more than one would want to see sometimes in this film. It’s about as faithful a representation of the film negative on DVD as one could reasonably expect.

There are no English subtitles on this French DVD release, but there is so little dialogue that this really makes no difference. The majority of the dialogue is in English anyway (with optional French subtitles), so even if you don’t understand the occasional exchange in French, it won’t hold you back from following what is going on.

A Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is provided and it serves the film very well. The soundtrack and score are very important for conveying the mood of the film and again, I can’t find any fault with the audio track. It is strong, clear and effective with the impressive Tindersticks score excelling in the mix.

Commentary by Claire Denis and Agnès Godard
The commentary is in French without any subtitles. The director and director of photography don’t throw too much light on what the film was trying to achieve other than how they created that very effective sense of unease. They talk around the characters, the actors, locations and the editing, describing how these contributed to a sense of "angoisse permanent". Key scenes are indicated and the only clue to the intentions of the film lie in a comment made by Denis about similarities with Jeckyl and Hyde and Frankenstein – human endeavours at scientific breakthrough being defeated by the monsters of reality. It is not the greatest of commentaries – too much of it is scene-specific, recollecting how, when and where they filmed each shot.

The trailer for the film is presented in non-anamorphic widescreen, as well as trailers for Battle Royale and The Tomb.

Selected filmographies are included for the principal actors, director and director of photography. Many of the actors are regulars in Claire Denis films.

French cinema continues to push the boundaries of cinema, particularly in its depiction of violence associated with uncontrollable sexual urges. Trouble Every Day takes this theme to its most abstract form, with little consideration for plot or characterisation, but that doesn't make the film any less interesting than Irreversible or The Piano Teacher. Like those films, this is challenging cinema with a combination of sex and violence that many will find repulsive. The lack of subtitles shouldn't put anyone off the French DVD release, but a Tartan release is also now available. I haven't seen the Tartan edition, but the quality on this French edition is superb and that is crucial in a film where mood, atmosphere, image and sound are everything.

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Last updated: 15/07/2018 04:49:04

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