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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Q&A with Trouble Every Day star Tricia Vessey

Beginning Friday, October 11, BAMcinématek brings back the most notorious film in the revered career of French auteur Claire Denis. A dark, gory meditation on cannibalistic lust, Trouble Every Day immediately followed the widely acclaimed Beau Travail and was met with uncomprehending reviews upon its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, ultimately receiving only a brief run during its release in New York.

Years later, it’s been praised as one of the top films of the 2000s by Film Comment and recognized as one of the most enigmatic works in Denis' oeuvre. Programmed in conjunction with the release of her latest film, Bastards, our week-long run of Trouble Every Day in a new 35mm print is an opportunity for a long-overdue reappraisal.

Brooklyn-based actor Tricia Vessey, who stars in the film as a newlywed American in Paris named June (married to Vincent Gallo's flesh-eating protagonist), took the time to speak with us about her experience making the film. She will be at BAM in person on Friday to introduce the 7pm screening.

1. How did you meet Claire Denis?

Jim Jarmusch had shown Claire an early cut of Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, and she was in the process of casting June. I guess she thought I was right for the role, although June was originally written as a Chinese woman. When Beau Travail was at the New York Film Festival, Claire flew me to New York to meet with her and cinematographer Agnès Godard. And then a few weeks later she came to Los Angeles, where I was living at the time, and we had dinner with Vincent Gallo. I think he was part of the decision in casting June. I had scheduling conflicts with another film I had already committed to—so it almost didn’t happen.

2. Were you a fan of her work before and how did you get involved in this film?

I had only seen Nénette et Boni before and, yes, I was a fan. But when Claire took me to see a screening of Beau Travail at NYFF, I was completely in awe. It went from being a cool experience to being totally intimidating. The ending of Beau Travail, when Denis Lavant is in the room and we see his vein pumping … my god, so incredible and then it cuts to him dancing in the empty club—that’s still my favorite cinematic moment.

3. Could you describe how much direction Denis gave you? How much of a script did you begin with, and was there a rehearsal process for the film?

We started with a fully fleshed-out script, very detailed and beautifully written. From that, I felt like I knew the tone of the film and knew who June was or could be. One of the things I loved about working with Claire (and Agnès, too) is that she works completely awake, meaning, she is constantly looking and thinking and open. I don’t speak a word of French and couldn’t even figure out how to get espresso, but working with Claire was easy. I understood her.

4. Were you surprised by the critical reaction to the film upon its original release? How do you think opinion of the film has changed in the past decade?

We were at the Toronto Film Festival for Trouble when 9/11 happened, and of course everything stopped. I was pregnant with my son Hermann and only remember wanting to get home. Later, I was only peripherally aware of some negative reactions or surprise or confusion over the material. I still don’t really know or care—I love the film.

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