“‘Can’t you see I’m burning?’: Sacrifice and Indifference in Claire Denis’ Trouble Every Day (2001).”
Wednesday, November 14, 5:15 pm
James Quandt in Artforum associates Claire Denis’ Trouble Every Day (2001) with what he calls the New French Extremity in film, due to two very nearly unwatchable sequences which depict the conflation of sex and cannibalism in graphic detail. Undeniably, these disturbing images have set the terms for the film’s reception. But what has gone largely unremarked in a film that places so much emphasis on these acts of violence and excess is a curious reticence, evident when, near the climax, one of the film’s leads, Coré (Béatrice Dalle) is engulfed in flames, to the camera’s palpable disinterest. But such an image cannot but evoke a whole filmic lineage of burning women, from Dreyer’s La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc (1928) forward–that is, a whole cinematic lineage of women sacrificed. Why this image should be so ambivalently conjured here will be our starting point.
Brian Wall is Assistant Professor of Cinema and Art History at Binghamton University.