Transgressive both in its narrative and in its filmmaking, Trouble Every Day (2001) envisions the monster inside, unspeakable urges and an overwhelming need for complete incorporation. A plant discovered in the South American jungle produces in its test subjects a terrible, unnatural and uncontrollable hunger. Vicious, all-consuming desire begets excessive violence and a turn to cannibalism, which situates Trouble Every Day into a tradition of challenging cinema, a film maudit that pushes the boundaries of what can be shown on screen. But while it is certainly an unflinching film, it is deserving of reassessment as part of Clare Denis’ filmography as well as a broader cinematic lineage.
Focusing on close textual analysis, this book delves into the surfeit of visual, literary, and non-fiction references that shape Trouble Every Day while thwarting attempts to firmly situate it. It considers its place in a lineage of films that push the boundary of taste and representation, aligned as much with Un Chien andalou (1929) as the New French Extremity. It also considers the film’s relationship to such sub-genres as classic monster movies, video nasties, mad science, gothic, vampire, body horror, and Italo-exploitation cannibal films, and directors such as Abel Ferrara, Brian de Palma, Jean Renoir and Jacques Tourneau. Drawing on a range of disciplines, including art, philosophy and phenomenology, this study explores how Trouble Every Day elicits a visceral response to a cinematic experience that beguiles and violates.