Claire Denis is a French filmmaker who was born in France but spent the majority of her childhood living in different West African countries then under French colonial rule before returning to France as a teenager.
At the encouragement of her husband, Denis studied film and worked as director’s assistant throughout the 1970s and ‘80s working for directors that included Wim Wenders and Costa-Gavras.
Denis made her first film Chocolat in 1988 which premiered In Competition at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival. Denis has worked steadily since then completing 11 feature films, 3 documentaries and numerous short films and surrounding herself with repeat collaborators including her cinematographer, Agnès Godard, English rock band Tindersticks and the actors Grégoire Colin, Isaach De Bankolé and Alex Descas all of whom appear in several of her movies.
She is best known for her films Beau Travail (1999), 35 Rums (2008) and White Material (2009) all of which examine the result of French colonialism on Africa.
A black television screen Snow white and black Deep and open Splashing against the windows Looking out onto a three-terrace town There’s a garden, grey-green And cherry blossoms Get in in the morning (All seasons here, saved for a rainy day) Climb in beside you (A part of a hole) Watch the clock for half an hour (An orange and its peel) It’s cold on the outside There’s steam on the windows (A star in a night sky) And I put myself there all the time (A gentle beauty) You let me forget again And I snore on and on You let me forget again Forget how it feels to be wrong If I could show her completely (Funny how everything makes you feel low when you’re already low) But it comes out so drunkardly now (Lying on the bed, the light-bulb banging down) Fall over on my words (Get up, pull the sheet from the window, to see the rain still coming down) That peace when the door slams (Downstairs there’s hot coffee, sit down to a cigarette) Soon shattered the hot light (Down to the filter, another and down to my last) I came so well-oiled (Another and my last penny) You let me forget again (4 a.m. 6 feet down. Already up with the larks) And I came stumbling through You let me forget again (4 a.m. 6 feet down. Already up with the larks) Forget what I always knew
Tindersticks, “Trouble Every Day” from Trouble Every Day: Original Soundtrack.
This beautiful song plays during the opening and closing credits to Claire Denis’s Trouble Every Day, a disturbing and dreamlike French film that follows two people afflicted with a brain malady that causes them to combine cannabalism and sex. I’ll blog more about the film later, but just take my word that Denis’s craft – although imperfect in some places – produces an allegorical work of genius that is nowhere near as exploitative or sadistic as the premise would make you believe.
British band Tindersticks created the soundtrack for the film, and it provides an exquisitely moody complement to the images on the screen. This is truly one of the best movie/music pairings I have ever encountered. Most of it is instrumental, but on the song above, lead singer Stuart Staples uses his Antony Hegarty-esque baritone (yes, I know that sounds like an oxymoron) to create a five-minute epic of inescapable melancholy.
And in case you’re wondering: yes, that is a wall painted with blood on the album cover; it’s a detail from a scene in the movie.