Trouble Every Day is Claire Denis's most disliked film. Even among her ardent fans, the feature is often seen as something of a failure (unless, of course, they happen to be one of the movie's few, fervent supporters). I, however, fall somewhere in the middle; I acknowledge its many flaws, but can't shake its haunting visuals. I'm consistently drawn to this bold material: an erotic parable which imagines a world where a certain group of afflicted individuals engage in sex as foreplay to violence; a predatory process which awakens in them an intense primal urge to attack and kill their partner (taking rough sex to a whole new level).
The idea for the film began with a nightmare the director had when she was a child, wherein her mother's goodnight kisses morphed into vicious bites. This concept — the fine line between lip and tooth — manifests itself right at the outset, when a couple is seen making out in their car, scored by Stuart Staples' (of Tinder Sticks) tension-racked orchestration, establishing dread and suspense that would normally give way to some kind of brutal action. But this is not a traditional horror movie, and such violence doesn't take place at this time. Denis understands that patience is a bedfellow of suspense, and fulfillment comes later.
While making a short film in New York City, a friend of hers in the industry asked Denis if she might be interested in making a genre film. Her response, many years later, is Trouble Every Day, which is in many ways not a genre film at all. It bears resemblance to various vampire movies, and the director claims that she's always been interested by that particular creature's mythology, but she hesitates to count her film among those that explore it. And understandably so; there's a brutality of an entirely different persuasion in Trouble Every Day. Sucking blood is not so much the motivation here; instead, the afflicted are prone to ravaging the bodies of their prey with a primal urgency, spattering the screen with blood. Not gore, however, which is an important point to make, as Denis claims (and I'm inclined to agree). The director makes no apologies for the blood in her films, but she insists that there is no gore, and that the term implies a certain "nihilism" which her film does not posses.