Trouble Every Day

Dir: Claire Denis
Star: Vincent Gallo, Tricia Vessey, Beatrice Dalle, Alex Descas

This is one of those phenomenally-irritating movies, which has an interesting idea, which it then stoically insists on screwing into the ground. Not the least of the many problems is its refusal to assemble any credible explanation until an hour or so it: oh, the characters know what's going on, but will they share it with the audience? Nope. There's Leo (Descas), apparently a former doctor, who carefully locks up his wife (Dalle) before leaving each day to do research: it's necessary because of her cannibailistic tendencies. Then, there's Shane (Gallo), who appears to have the same condition, and has brought his oblivious wife (Vessey, channeling a young Winona Ryder) to Paris, ostensibly on honeymoon, but really to see if Leo can provide any kind of remedy for the disease. Those two sentences are more enlightening than the entire first half of the film.

I don't mind impenetrability or obtuseness, but it needs to be to some definite purpose, certainly more than the sense that Denis is trying for the same kind of 'body-horror' which propelled the early work of Cronenberg. There are vaguely unsettling moments here, stemming from the cold-hearted way in which both "victims" of the disease appear to have little or no moral qualms or compass. It's obviously the scenes of sexual cannibalism which are supposed to be the most memorable, but they're played out with such little passion, they feel more like canni-porn. Claims this is "deeply disturbing" proved utterly unfounded; compared to other examples of new-wave French horror, it's remarkably weak sauce, and triggered little more than a slight furrowing of my forehead. And even that, might just have been me realizing this was 96 minutes of my life (plus 700 Mb of bandwidth) I'll never get back.

[September 2013]

Bloody hell
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