An American honeymoon in France with cannibals. What could go wrong?
Trouble Every Day crept onto my radar a long time ago, but for whatever reason I had not bother to watch it until now. Unfortunately, I was aware of some of the complaints about the film before watching, so I had to be careful when viewing to make sure my opinion wasn’t tainted.
We follow newlyweds Shane and June as they travel to Paris for their honeymoon. However, Shane is actually travelling to find a reclusive doctor to help him with a mysterious medical condition. The doctor, Leo, is an ‘expert’ in the disorder due to his wife Core having the same condition.
What is the disorder, you ask? Well, when those inflicted are sexually aroused, they want to become murderous cannibals. Leo keeps Core locked up to prevent her from escaping to seduce and murder men. She seems to break out often, as we see Leo covering up her crimes twice early in the film. Shane desperately searches for Leo in the hopes that he can live a normal life, but the interactions between the characters often end in disaster.
The genre of the film is somewhat difficult to nail down. It wants to be an erotic horror film, but fails on both of those fronts. Sure, it does raise some interesting questions of vampirism and sexuality, feminine sexuality as threatening, and other issues of gender, but they aren’t fully explored. Claire Denis proves to be a competent director (and many of her other films are celebrated more than this), but for me, there is just something missing here. The film is daring at points but chooses to be indirect where it needs to be direct. Further, it chooses to linger on moments while fleeting over others.
The film works more as an experimentation into the limits of narrative. For example, how much can be stripped away from a story? Does the film operate in a universal or limiting way? What about the links between sexuality and violence that are so pervasive in contemporary horror? Denis turns these notions on their head, and I applaud her for doing so.
Overall, the film is for students. If you want to trouble over a narrative (pun intended) and unpack the multiple layers, this film has a lot to offer. For viewing audiences, I think they will walk away a bit unsatisfied. The film does not achieve basic genre needs to make a highly enjoyable experience. 5/10. For film studies folks, it might be closer to an 8/10.