I’m fairly certain that Vincent Gallo only plays one character. That is, the guy who stares mournfully off into the middle distance, while his life falls apart and other lives go on around him. He’s often monosyllabic, a bit creepy, and prone to siezing up at the thought of any inopportune memory. In that respect he’s got a lot in common with introverts like me, so perhaps I shouldn’t be quite so judgemental.
The title Trouble Every Day comes from a Frank Zappa song. Is it a coincidence that Gallo’s character looks a lot like the crazed guitarist? Possibly. It’s also perhaps a little misleading, as the plot here isn’t so much of trouble every day, more trouble over an ongoing and lengthy period of time. Besides, that song is about being forced to experience bad news on television and comments on discrimination. I’m not sure I fully appreciate the link if one was intended. If anyone wants to enlighten me on this, I’m happy to hear your thoughts.
Anyway, back to the review. Gallo is Shane, recently married to June (Tricia Vessey). They are an American couple on honeymoon in France, where there are shady goings on involving Core (Beatrice Dalle) being locked up by herself in a big empty house. A couple of youngsters decide to try and break into the house and, well… things don’t turn out well for them. Shane meanwhile is fighting against his urges, but the true meaning behind them is unclear. Keep watching, weary traveller, for all will soon be revealed.
This is a modern take on the vampire story, albeit one where the script is almost too obtuse for its own good. Here’s a thought: be arthouse by all means, but offer just a little explanation to your audience if you want to get anywhere with it. Honestly, it doesn’t have to be much, just a few pointers. A little dialogue here or there wouldn’t go amiss either. There’s only so much angsty staring into the distance you can tolerate before you start reaching for the remote to turn it off. Well, unless it’s an Ingmar Bergman film, in which case carry on as you were. It might have helped a bit too if the script hadn’t taken so much time to get going. It’s beyond the halfway mark before something genuinely interesting and different happens, and by then most of my good will towards the film had started to ebb.
On that note, the gore and violence scenes are top notch, although sadly all too brief. They add a literal dash (or maybe splash?) of colour to the story, and drag it up from its otherwise mildly tedious approach.
What did I like then? The score is pretty good, as is the concept for the film. It’s a great alternative take if you can see past the flaws presented by the script. Notions of lust and desire exchange time with the battle between nature and science. There’s also an undercurrent of characters hiding their past from others, in part to disguise mistakes they have made, and partially to protect loved ones from mistakes, passion and uncontrollable urges.
The performances, too, are solid throughout, working around the script as best they can. Despite her script lacking in detail, Claire Denis is a good director and keeps the camera close to the actors at all times. It’s an almost intimate approach to the narrative, and entirely fitting under the circumstances.
This is the first film from Claire Denis that I’ve seen. It’s likely that I will seek out some of her other works eventually, but I’ll admit that I’m not in a massive rush to do so. There’s some very good ideas here that are hidden by a script that doesn’t serve the story or the characters well enough. That is perhaps the only serious complaint I can raise. And, sadly, it’s more than enough to stop me from outright recommending Trouble Every Day as a film you should watch.