Is it a texture, or a fold of the soul, of thought?
– Gilles Deleuze, The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque
Those familiar with the work of contemporary French director Claire Denis will be well aware of her cinematic appeals to the body. Together with her long-running cinematographer, Agnès Godard, Denis is known for eschewing dialogue, character psychology and linear narrative causality in her films, in favor of crafting elliptical and yet exquisitely “vivid sensory worlds”. 
Of particular interest is how Denis encourages us to feel a series of embodied and emotive linkages between the audiovisual expressions of the cinema and the immanence of flesh, fabric and materiality – in ways that resonate with the highly textural effects of the baroque. In recent film and media scholarship, Denis’ cinema has been aligned with a set of other contemporary European directors whose films also address the corporeal, embodied dimensions of the medium, including Bruno Dumont, Philippe Grandrieux, Gasper Noé, Lars von Trier and Marina de Van. These filmmakers are at the forefront of what has come to be known, variously, as the ‘new’ cinema of extremism, the French cinema of sensation or cinéma du corps (‘cinema of the body’); a group of films that is best characterised, to quote Tim Palmer, by their “on-screen interrogation of physicality in brutally intimate terms”. 
Concentrating on Denis’ moody art/horror effort, Trouble Every Day (2001) – a film whose controversy during its premiere at Cannes has since given way to much critical approbation – I develop a materialist account of the baroque and its sensuous re-surfacing.  Film scholars such as Martine Beugnet and Douglas Morrey have also identified a “baroque sensuality” at work in Trouble Every Day.  Beugnet, however, connects the baroque inflections of the film to Georges Bataille-related readings of excess and chaos. In that account, the spectator is drawn into scenes of “sensation-filled audio-visual chaos”; a “baroque audio-visual excess” that muddies the formal and philosophical borders between the figurative and the abstract, pulling us towards the irrational.  While not discounting the ways in which Denis’ compositions can flit in and out of abstraction, I will argue that Trouble Every Day possesses an alternate aesthetic structure or, more precisely, a vital structuring principle – that of the fold, as it spurs mobile and material engagements with vision, shifting between macro- and micro- scales of perception and eliciting our embodied as well as thoughtful comprehension. 
Drawing on Gilles Deleuze’s philosophy of the fold, as well as historic and contemporary baroque scholarship, I argue that Trouble Every Day enacts neo-baroque folds that move between film and viewer in painful and pleasurable ways. Furthermore, it is by way of the neo-baroque that I articulate a cinema of sensation that need not be divorced from figuration, genre or narrative (as Beugnet suggests), nor experienced only through abstraction, as Laura Marks’ influential model of haptic-visuality implies.  Rather, as Deleuze asserted, the fold – at once a material phenomenon and figuration of the baroque, as well as a metaphysical concept – is steeped in the world of matter and transitions in embodied thought, or what Deleuze (following Leibniz) would call the inner “folds in the soul”. 
As it enfolds surfaces, spaces and materials, entangling film and viewer, Trouble Every Day enacts a neo-baroque texturing of sensation. Characteristically baroque actions of “folding, unfolding, refolding” are reprised by the film’s sensuous attention to texture, movement, scale, surface and a heightened fabrication of the image/screen.  Film, body and world become effectively folded into each other, through Denis’ textural appeals to the immanence of bodily experience and the revelation of thoughtful patterns that appeal to folds in the soul. Gathering together the longstanding materiality of the baroque with shifts in scale, space and sensation, Trouble Every Day can rightly be considered an instance of neo-baroque cinema – its folds move between film and viewer, to twist and torque between sensuous and thoughtful purpose.
A Material Visuality
At once beautiful, melancholic and horrifying, Trouble Every Day couples quietude and waiting with graphic scenes of death, desire and eroticism. The film intercuts two different sets of lovers, revealing their past and present inter-connections. Léo Semeneau (Alex Descas), a radical French scientist, spends his time caring for and hoping to cure his wife Coré (Beatrice Dalle). She suffers from an unnamed disease – compelled to hunt for men and literally biting them to death during love-making. An American doctor and Léo’s former colleague, Shane Brown (Vincent Gallo), is in the early stages of this affliction. Alarmed by his violent desires, Shane journeys to Paris with his new bride June (Tricia Vessey) to seek answers from Léo, only to find that the scientific community has shunned him. Distressed by his psychological battle with the illness, Shane’s actions become increasingly erratic and predatory towards women. We later learn that the disease that has infected Coré and Shane was contracted in Guyana where Léo and Shane once worked together, and Shane and Coré once desired one another. Shane, at some point in the past, stole and profited from Léo’s research.
Anticipation of the film’s ‘trouble’ starts with a kiss. Before the title credits appear, we encounter a dimly lit scene where, through the back seat of a car, we watch an anonymous couple embrace. (This is one of the few kisses of Trouble Every Day that does not open into a bite; we do not see this couple again).  As their lips touch, the gentle and somber score of Tindersticks, Denis’ frequent musical collaborators, sets in: ‘Look into my eyes/you see trouble everyday/I get on the inside of you’.  Combined, the kissing couple, the darkened atmosphere and the intimation of close bodily warmth inside the car appear serene and romantic. Yet, there are glimmers of something more sinister, insofar as Denis is interested in exploring the “connection between desire and violence, and desire is, quite literally, a deadly force” in this film.  The couple’s preoccupation with each other, oblivious to all but the press of their own bodies, suggests that the look of the film/viewer is where it is not wanted – that it is voyeuristically preying upon this couple, just as it will stalk the maid, Christelle (Florence Loiret Calle), later. While the faces of the couple are difficult to discern, the intentional focus of the film is visible and it comes to rest, repeatedly, on the flesh of the woman’s neck before tracing its vision up and down her body as her lover’s fingers do.  Against the sound of swelling violins, the scene of the couple cedes to complete darkness; a long sequence of black that could belong to an entirely flat surface or contain voluminous shadows.
Similar shifts between the two- and the three- dimensional take place in the images and sounds of water that follow. A series of soft dissolves and gradual revelations of scale help re-orient the imagery as the waters of the Seine, gently lapping beneath the signature bridges of Paris. As it first subsumes the screen in close-up, however, the moving waters of the Seine are made to resemble nothing so much as a ream of rippling fabric.
This tactile association is heightened by the filmic interplay of light and shadow as the streetlights of Paris at dawn cast dappled effects across the surface of the water/screen, alongside deep furrows of purplish shadow. Rather than the substance and materiality of water, Denis presents the water to us as if it were a moving textile. Both the representational content of the images and the screen itself take on the physical qualities of a moving fabric – surface patterning and texture, as well as a strong sense of depth, tactility and motion. Subtle transitions between the surface and depth of the image/screen and an emphasis on gradual movement in the images themselves (the fades to black, flowing water, clouds drifting across the sky) enhance the sense of supple movement. As our view of Paris and its bridges disappears, the title credits begin to rise and fall out of the darkness, as if from moving from out of submerged depths. Tinged mauve and black (colours that can be connected to the vampiric time-keeping of dawn and dusk), the credits evoke the sensuous impression of water-as-fabric and worldly material. The surface of screen is visibly animated, stirred into swells of movement by unseen energies below. Alongside suggestions of anterior contours to the image that boast depths yet to be probed, the eye is simultaneously drawn to the surface of the screen. The image/screen take on a mutable and textured appearance, functioning not as “a static object, but a potentially dynamic, tangible form, like fabric” and a moving site of materiality in its own right. 
As Susan Stewart remarks, our tactile apprehensions of “roughness and smoothness; sticky things that remain in contact with the skin and slippery things that move readily across it; qualities of wetness and dampness and dryness in relation to each other; heaviness and lightness, hardness and softness; clues as to position and states of motion” are readily apprehended by sight.  Similarly, phenomenological film scholar Vivian Sobchack has argued for the ways in which film and viewer constitute a mutually embodied, rather than audiovisual, exchange. To quote Sobchack, cinema involves “texture and solidity. This is a vision that knows what it is to touch things in the world, that understands materiality. The film’s vision thus perceives and expresses the ‘sense’ of fabrics like velvet or the roughness of tree bark or the yielding softness of human flesh”.  Such visually tactile experiences resonate strongly with Trouble Every Day. Nonetheless, it enacts a neo-baroque texturing of sensation; Denis’ cine-aesthetics reprise the baroque by foregrounding surface appearances, material textures and a sensuous fabrication of the image/screen. Thus, while a focus on the body is typical of Denis and the French cinema of sensation, the fabric-like and texturally enfolded experiences that ripple through Trouble Every Day are more suitably re-calibrated as neo-baroque. Furthermore, Denis’ return to and reliance on literal or representational bodies-in-touch (kissing, killing, biting, loving, caressing, strangling), not to mention their tactile transitions through “the pleasure and pain of contact with others”, self-reflexively recall the iconographic features of European baroque art, especially its exuberant figurations of materiality. 
The historic baroque age reveled in creating highly textural illusions, so much so that stylised drapery is considered one of its foremost aesthetic signatures. Mastering the depiction of elaborate folds of fabric was an essential skill in the artist’s apprenticeship. The rendering of light, shade, movement and texture was a mark of their virtuosity and “allied to the study of nature, but a composed nature, an artificial nature as it were”.  In her study of seventeenth-century Dutch art, Svetlana Alpers has ably documented how it is the “surfaces, the materials of the world that [catch] the eye” in genre and still-life paintings of the period; its artworks seeming fit to burst with an array of tactile detailing.  What Alpers identifies as the Dutch art of describing was, notably, achieved through the play of different textures against one another and the fibrous rendering of “apparel […] satins, furs, stuffs, velvets, silks, felt hats, feathers, swords, the gold, the embroidery, the carpets, the beds with tapestry hangings, the floors so perfectly smooth, so perfectly solid”. 
Whether capturing the movement of human flesh or drapery-in-motion, curls of lace, luxurious textiles of satin and velvet, animal fur, the complex patterning of intercultural objects such as Chinese ceramics and Oriental carpets, collectibles of glassware, pewter and watches or edibles in varying states of life and decay, the historic baroque was entrenched in what Marks calls a “material visuality”.  I contend that the material visuality of the baroque creates a heightened texturing or fabrication of the image. A cinematic extension of that material visuality persists in Trouble Every Day, due to its neo-baroque activations of texture. Playing to the “intensely tactile quality of [Godard’s] photography”, the image/screen is configured as a deeply enfolded and potentially touchable surface, akin to the rich hues and darkened folds of drapery in baroque art.  Take, for instance, the extraordinarily ‘baroque’ manner in which we encounter Shane and June.
Romantically absorbed with each other on their airplane journey to Paris, Shane is seen placing his mouth over the flesh of June’s upturned arm. As with the merger of “antagonistic forces” in the baroque, the scene of the happy honeymooners soon gives way to Shane’s fantasies of a bloodied yet blissful June.  When Shane retreats to the bathroom the image of a hand suddenly appears; it feels its way across a fabric that is sodden and slippery with blood, then disappears into the darkness. What is remarkable about this sequence is how explicitly it draws upon and re-works the textural and iconographic heritage of the European baroque. In the still and dimly lit setting of Shane’s vision, the limp body of June is seen literally coated in blood and partially covered by a bed sheet. Pictured variously on her side, her front and back, with her eyes alternately open and closed, Denis’ conjunctions of flesh, fabric, blood, and bodily comportment here condense the enwrapped and enshrouded saints and martyrs in historic baroque art as well as their scared and sacrificial poses. In fact, the scene calls to mind historic baroque works such as The Martyrdom of Saint Cecilia (Stefano Moderno, 1606) where Cecilia is seen positioned on her side, with her face and body completely covered by a sculpted shroud. Such intermedial allusions are enhanced by the soundscape, as it shifts from the low drone of the airplane-in-flight to the whistling of wind – bringing with it sonic suggestions of a tomb.
As with the lush and tactile rendering of drapery, clothes, carpets and human flesh in baroque art, Trouble Every Day mobilises its material-visuality as a means of foregrounding the “sensuality of the image”.  Denis underscores the intensely physical and disturbing nature of the scene through the perceptual immediacy of its textures; the vibrant red of freshly drawn blood stands out against the surrounding darkness, while sticking to the surface of June’s skin and soaking into the cloth. Enthralled with its own tactile exploration of the surfaces of body and world, the film slowly moves its vision over the contours of June’s inert body. In close-up, it invites us to feel the heaviness of the wet and blood-soaked fabric that clings to her and to discern subtle patterns in the blood that coats her like a second skin (a light splattering here, a denser coagulation over there). Continuing down June’s back, it reveals to us how individual streams of blood join together, flowing like a river down the crease of the spine. By way of a highly textured vision, Trouble Every Day devotes its attention to the multiple folds of scarlet fabric that cover June’s lower back and legs, expressing, in turn, all the micro-indentations and creases that appear in the cloth.
Here, it is as if Denis interweaves the scene with some of the most well-recognised tropes of the historic baroque; with the agitated surfaces of Bernini’s drapery, the vibrant and bloodied wounds of Caravaggio’s art and the iconography of enfolded shrouds.
Denis activates the sensuous effects of perceiving both surface and depth through a fabrication of the image/screen. The materiality of the image/screen comes to the fore through its textured and proximate vision, as it reveals small-scale variations in the surface of the sheet and June’s skin. At the same time, the darkness surrounding June and the scene as a whole creates the impression of us peering into an infinite depth: an effect enhanced by the deep shadows appearing amongst the folds of red fabric. As with historic baroque art, our perception is tugged between the depths of perspective and the material lures of the surface. The intertwining of surface appearances with depth lends Denis’ fabrication of the image/screen a strong sculptural quality, as if its textural folds were actually three-dimensional. Although the image/screen cannot be literally touched here, Denis’ material-visuality highlights the visually tactile relations that can exist between film and viewer, and their potential for sensory contact.
It is noteworthy then that the film should return, again and again, to a particular textile – white or bloodied bed linen. Graphic sequences of violence, death and eroticism are staged against the imagery of bedclothes; so much so that the fabric serves to texturally connect many characters. This textile features in Shane’s violent vision of June, described above; later, Shane wipes his bloodied hands and mouth on a set of bed sheets after murdering the maid; Coré kills one of her lovers on the white sheets of her bed, while the film cuts to a shot of Coré’s bedclothes, splattered with blood and catching fire during her death. Whether it appears to us as white, clean and smoothed out or as a bloodied, crushed, deeply enfolded fabric, this textile is marked by its passage between bodies. Denis’ recurring use of this textile can be interpreted as a figural expression and a materialisation of the neo-baroque nature of the film itself. It recalls the ways in which life and death frequently crossover for the baroque, where beautifully draperies can serve as erotic drape as well as death shroud. It is therefore an appropriately baroque, tactile and fittingly sensuous emblem for how film, viewer and world are materially enfolded into one another in Trouble Every Day, in seductive and deathly ways. After all, as Mieke Bal has observed:
In painting, as well as in sculpture, drapery and folds are notoriously, indeed quintessentially, baroque figures in the popular imagination – they are emblems of ‘baroqueness’. But these well known figures are just that, figures – formal elements that embody a philosophical, epistemological and aesthetic position of much greater depth. 
In The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque, Deleuze explored the trans-historic persistence of the baroque in art, architecture, music, costume, science, mathematics and design. Through the infinitesimal thought of the German philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Deleuze understands the baroque as a particular “operative function, a trait. It endlessly produces folds”.  For Deleuze, Leibniz is the foremost philosopher of lively and divisible matter, who forms an intrinsic “part of this [baroque] world, for which he provides the philosophy that it lacks!”  As a thinker and a mathematician “of the pleat, of curves and twisting surfaces […] An exquisitely sensuous view of the world is obtained through the curved shapes that Leibniz creates with calculus”.  The fold is a charged figuration of the materiality, texture and movement of the baroque; it re-surfaces as a formal and conceptual feature of Trouble Every Day.
Intriguingly, Deleuze’s use of the French monosyllable pli refers to a pleat or twist of fabric and to the origins of life.  Scale, movement and the vitality of the world are almost palpable qualities in Deleuze’s descriptions of the fold. Discussing organic and inorganic substances, Deleuze refers to veins running through blocks of marble; to folds “of winds, of water, fire and earth”; to matter as an “infinitely porous, spongy or cavernous texture without emptiness, caverns endlessly contained in other caverns”; to the delicate paper folds of origami and the billowing cuffs, cloaks and shirts of historic baroque costumes.  In an evocative link with the rendering of water-as-material in Trouble Every Day, Deleuze via Leibniz envisions the universe as a “pond of matter in which there exist different flows and waves”.  Connections with the materiality of the world (and the physical communication between brain, body, world and soul), as well as a re-generative sense of movement, are not only formal elements of the fold, they are indicative of the “very fabric of ontology” that Deleuze is proposing.  In this regard, as Tom Conley notes, “philosophy finds in the fold the expression of a continuous and vital force of being and becoming”. 
If Deleuze’s articulation of the fold can be connected to larger issues of ontology, what is distinctly baroque about the fold? Deleuze himself helps clarify this tension in interviews. He maintains that, while folds can be found everywhere in worldly and artistic phenomena (in rocks and rivers, in the brain, in souls, and in the plastic arts), this still does not make the fold a universal. “No two things are folded in the same way” Deleuze states, before going on to identify Leibniz as “the first thinker to ‘free’ the fold by taking it to infinity. The baroque, similarly, was the first period in which folding went on infinitely, spilling over any limit, as in El Greco and Bernini”. 
As Deleuze’s fold is at once a visual, mobile and textured figuration of the baroque, his sensuous conjunction of infinite movement with materiality is of particular interest to the discussion of Denis. Deleuze defines the baroque as a trans-historic “trait that twists and turns its folds, pushing them to infinity, fold upon fold, one upon the other”.  As it moves between the scale of matter and enfolds surfaces, spaces and materials, Denis’ layering of the image/screen produces what I am calling a textural infinite. Shifting between visceral, horrifying and seductive textures that are felt, up-close and personal, to more distanced depictions of the multiplicity of the world and its patterning, Denis’ neo-baroque textures of sensation are alternately beautiful and devastating. It is by way of both extremes, however, that the director celebrates the corporeal connections between film, body and world as “realizing something in illusion itself, or of tying it to a spiritual presence that endows its spaces and fragments with a collective unity” as Deleuze writes of the historic baroque.  His description resonates with the strongly felt presence of matter in Denis.
Referring to the seventeenth-century art of Bernini and Caravaggio, Deleuze rightly describes the baroque as being invested in “not an art of structures but of textures”.  Examining the sensuous significance of clothing, mise en scène, architecture and design as well as the ways in which filmic “[i]mages are fabricated as if they were textiles”, film scholar Giuliana Bruno has also looked to the fold to help develop a sartorial approach to the cinema.  As she observes:
When Deleuze speaks of the fold, he goes well beyond mere form, shape, exterior appearance, or décor. If we listen closely to his words, we can sense the actual fabric of the fold […]. The fold, in Deleuze’s conception, is a textured philosophical fabrication. It has a palpable quality, a material culture, a tissue-like texture. […] This material unfolding finds correspondence in film. 
Trouble Every Day enacts not only a material-visuality but also a “liberation of folds” – or what Deleuze has asserted as “the definition of the Baroque – the fold to infinity”.  Extending on Bruno, it is not only the texture of the fold that is of relevance to Denis, but the loosened and free reign that is given to an aesthetics of materiality. Unlike other forms of folding, Deleuze maintains that it is only in its baroque iteration that the fold “knows unlimited freedom […] Folds seem to be rid of their supports – cloth, granite, or cloud – in order to enter into an infinite convergence”. 
In Trouble Every Day, Denis’ aesthetics are loosened from the demands of plot, characterisation and causality, so as to develop as a font of sensuous meaning in their own right. Like the baroque fold, Trouble Every Day privileges the liberation and the sensuality of “expressive matter”.  Matter precedes structure here or, more precisely, it accords with the vital structuring principle of the fold. Chiaroscuro lighting effects and engulfing shadows darken and obscure the film’s representational content, while sculpting the effect of unplumbed material depths to the image/screen. The contours of on-screen bodies are also blurred, as if lost to the materiality of their surrounding environments. A body hunched over Coré seems to disappear into the natural landscape of her hunting grounds, while the blacks, blues and grey of Shane’s costuming match the urban architecture, the dull, metallic sheen of the airplane and the hotel basement. Such techniques are indicative of Denis’ consistently “non-hierarchical visual register, in which human beings seem to have no greater claim to the image than other elements of the décor. […] it is the non-anthropocentric focus of Denis’ mise en scène that [re-configures her characters] as bodies in a landscape, bodies in, or as, space”. 
In one sequence, Shane carries June over the hotel threshold to lie on an unmade bed. Christelle is seen beside them, unfolding a set of sheets. All three are dressed in a similar colour palette that matches the wallpapered surfaces of the room. As June and Christelle begin to make the bed, the film concentrates its vision on the white stretch of the bedclothes – texturally recalling Shane’s earlier fantasy of a bloody and cloth-covered June. As the sound of crumpled sheets fills the silence of the room, the film continues its focus on the easing out of creases in the surface of the linen. A shot of June reveals the edges of her white-clad body as virtually indistinct from the background, appearing to merge with its depths. As Douglas Morrey observes, the “more sensational areas of the film [are] somehow [also] contained within these folds of linen, the layers of whiteness that take over the screen between the blank white wall, June’s white dress and the newly-made bed”. 
In attending to macro- and micro-scales of matter, Denis’ foregrounds the intentional switch of Shane and the film’s vision, as it is caught by the presence of the maid. As Shane runs his fingertips along the linen, the soundscape combines the rustling of the sheets with low rumbling sounds. Having featured, earlier, in Shane’s bloodied vision of June, these sounds create the sonic impression of a much larger and more deathly space than the small Paris hotel room, predicting events yet to come. As if affirming this deadly association, Denis then cuts from a shot of fabric in Shane’s hands to a view of Christelle, catching her breath and now aware of Shane’s look. The background of the scene becomes hazy, as Christelle’s loose tendrils of hair and the smooth expanse of her face-in-profile come into view. A loaded and poignant scene follows, with the maid slowly pushing her cart down the empty hotel corridors. This imagery will recur again and again; shot from behind and up-close, interspersed with the forlorn music of the “Maid’s Theme”, the camera revels in the delicate nape of Christelle’s neck. As Steven Shaviro remarks, Denis’ understated yet affectively atmospheric take on the “vampire/cannibalism film […] has more in common with, say, Bresson’s Pickpocket or Antonioni’s Eclipse” than with most horror; and also much in common with the textural infinite of the baroque fold, as it gives free reign to a materialist aesthetics. 
No dialogue is spoken in the scene above, yet the attention to the surfaces of bodies and to the materiality of the objects that surround them make for some of the most sensuous, frightening and melancholic moments of the film. There is a lived sense of gravity to this sequence, as I am encouraged to feel the smoothing out of the creases of bed linen, the bumping of the heavy metal cart against Chritelle’s legs, the presence of bodies-in-space reacting to each other and the dawning awareness of Shane, the film and the viewer as to his first possible kill. The rhythmic and haunting return of the film to Christelle’s neck foretells us of her sure and immanent death.
By the end, Shane succumbs to his illness and murders Christelle in the hotel basement. Afterwards, he is presented as being at both physical and mental ease: “I feel good”, he tells June as he embraces her and they agree to go home. The close-up of June’s eyes that follows is held just long enough for us to register their small contraction. Framed against her set of brightly-coloured red gloves (a chromatic stand-in for Shane’s recently bloodied hands), June’s flicker of uncertainty is the final image, before the film enigmatically fades to black. No resolution is given as to what awaits these characters, or if the fatal transitions between desire and bloodshed will halt. If anything, it seems that “there is no end to it. Trouble everyday”.  Fittingly, Denis also includes within this sequence a small-scale fabrication of the image/screen – seen in the form of tiny droplets of blood, running down the plastic folds of the shower-curtain. The image of blood-on-plastic functions as yet another textual infinite and a concretisation of the baroque fold, as it occurs across multiple levels of matter, from the cosmological to the microscopic and vice versa. The film’s trouble is contained within the textural infinite of this image – assuring us that the horror will endlessly repeat, in infinite and regenerative loops of bloodshed that can be blamed on (white) capitalistic greed at the source.
… or Inside/Out
In Trouble Every Day, the layering of images and sounds defies the presumed flatness of the screen, enacting a textural infinite and furthering the embodied enfoldment of film and viewer. I am not alone in noting the resonant interconnections between Denis’ film and Deleuze’s concept of the fold. Morrey, too, has written of the film’s recurrent fascination with fabrics and with the sensuous surfaces, pleats and wrinkles of matter. As he remarks, this is a “film of surfaces” and one whose heightened physicality corresponds with the “fertile conception of matter” put forth by Deleuze.  But the neo-baroque folds of Trouble Every Day run much deeper than Morrey suggests, at an embodied as well as an aesthetic level.
Material and mobile reversals between the inside and outside – the surface and depth of the image – abound in historic baroque art. Consider the erupting folds that energetically drape the body and the sarcophagus of The Blessed Ludovica Albertoni (Gian Lorenzo Bernini, 1671-1674): folds that incarnate for us the (immaterial) depths of the saint’s soul, through a textural movement that occurs upon the surface of Bernini’s sculpture. In a similar fashion, Dutch still-lives – a veritable “study of folds”, as Deleuze reminds us – stage sensuous reversals between the inside/outside of the aesthetic experience through the ‘flaying’ of worldly objects.  Through a peeled lemon, the Dutch still-life will show us the hardened outer rind of the fruit as well as its inner pulp; cheeses are sliced into and pies depicted with their fillings spilt out; fish are cut open exposing, simultaneously, their gleaming skin, their fleshy interior and tiny bones. Containers and glassware are toppled over and watches opened, showing us the mechanics of their interior. Through the play of light and shadow, we are encouraged to discern the material-make-up of different worldly textures – to distinguish the gleam of glass from the glint of metal, the texture of a finely woven cloth from a crumbling pastry.  As Bal comments, only “a superficial vision of baroque would stop at the surface; the surface, after all, is where the ‘depth’ of what baroque means and does is hidden”.  Rather than halting at the surface, then, it is necessary to move between surface and depth, the material and the immaterial to understand Denis’ neo-baroque folds.
A thickening affective atmosphere of anxiety and anticipation envelops the film, as “one [has] a pervasive sense of […] something about to happen, of a disturbance in our fields of sound and vision”.  Lingering shots of the hotel seem de-populated; its corridors and basement flicker in and out of darkness, reverberating with ominous off-screen sounds. Meanwhile everyday or familiar spaces “pulsate” and any impressions of “[c]alm and tranquility are underscored by a sense of foreboding”.  Depicted as if waiting for something to happen, the languorous gestures and movements of many of the film’s characters, together with the recurrent rhythms of the film itself – especially as it lyrically enacts repeated musical refrains and a patterning of camera movement and editing – help craft this tensile mood. The successive build up of “rhythms of waiting […] emptiness, [the] time of desperation and fear in which nothing happens” are then ruptured, palpably, by the film’s explosive scenes of sexualised violence that rent the tactile surfaces of the skin and of the film itself. 
According to Deleuze, “such is the Baroque trait: an exterior always on the outside, an interior on the inside”, adding that the “fold separates or moves between matter and soul, the façade and the closed room, the outside and the inside”.  Pursuing the logic of the fold, we can approach the inside and outside – the surface and its depth – as being intimately connected for the baroque whereby a “topology is created by which inner and outer spaces are in contact with one another”.  An enfoldment of the inside/out is likewise crucial to the neo-baroque of Trouble Every Day – in its literal breaching of the representational surfaces of the body and in the spatial and sensuous enfolding of film and viewer. As philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy (another close collaborator of Denis) points out, the film “is made entirely on and about the skin. Literally: exposed skin. (Pellicula, little skin). Not only is the skin present in the image in extreme close-ups […]. It is also the image itself, the film, its skin, that caresses and ravishes and tears”. 
While Nancy plays on the shared meanings of film/skin in French (pellicule), his words can be taken literally in terms of the embodied effects of Trouble Every Day. Consider the scene in which Coré seduces and murders one of the neighbourhood boys obsessed with her. Destabilising any fixed sense of scale, and foregrounding the materiality of its images and sounds, another textural infinite is staged here. As Coré and the boy begin their erotic tryst, the frame of the film is filled, variously, by what appears as the huge indentation of a bellybutton; by valleys of skin and bone; stretches of light and dark shades of body hair and various markings that pocket the skin. The film’s extremely tight, up-close and material vision presents us with unfolding topographies of flesh meeting flesh. Both the scale and surface of the human body are rendered strange, re-configured as a vast dermal “landscape or a constellation of planets”.  Longstanding techniques of the baroque combine – the materiality of the image, an intertwining of surface with depth and transformations between macro and microscopic scale – and initiate sensory shocks in the viewer that work to enfold us within the physicality of the aesthetic experience.  What Deleuze describes as the baroque “transformation of a cosmos into a mundus”, and vice versa, is performed by the film’s oscillation between the scales of matter, as it moves from a “caressing closeness to the bodies” and proximate attachments to textured surfaces to a larger and depth-full tearing of the image/screen. 
For the baroque, the surface enwraps inner tumults of feeling and the detail of matter. But baroque surfaces also intimate or open up upon the experience of much larger perceptual, emotive and aesthetic depths. As with the varying surface textures and flayed objects that belong to the Dutch still-life tradition or the gaping mouths and wounds of Caravaggio’s art, where darkened chasms of the body “insist on the force of the surface” while conveying to us their fleshy interior, the sensuous effects of surface and depth combine in the baroque.  As with the inherently reversible figure of the fold, the baroque exposes the inter-connections between the inside/out of worldly phenomena and its own aesthetic experiences. In the sequence described above, Denis’ extended takes of the scene and the brutality of the soundtrack, together with the micro-scale and materiality of vision make it incredibly difficult to entangle oneself. As Coré runs her hands up and down the body’s torso and neck, their mouths find each other in the darkness. The repetitive beat of Tindersticks’ soundtrack takes on the ticking sound of a timepiece, as if anticipating the shocking and horrendous bites that are to follow. This gentle score soon gives way to yelps of pain; to the boy’s screams, thick and almost asphyxiated with blood; and Coré’s own agonised cries, unable to control the blood lust. The film still keeps its vision unrelentingly close to the murder and to the cruel orality of Coré biting at and pulling flesh from her lover’s face. A series of sensory shocks unfurl between film and viewer, as we are enfolded into the horrific textures of this encounter.
In her book, Emotion, Depth and Flesh: A Study of Sensitive Space, Susan Cataldi usefully details how, the deeper that an emotional state is felt, the more likely it is to be experienced as an immersive spatial location that we feel ourselves to be inside.  The spatial/emotive immersion of feeling ourselves in horror certainly occurs here: in the killings of Coré and Shane, the young boy and Christelle become “skins offered up, the exposed skins […] the skin, instead of an envelope, becomes a surface to break. The mutilated body reveals its interiority, its depth, the secret of its life”.  Given its rupturing, breaching and tearing of surfaces – both the surfaces of the body on-screen and of the film itself – Denis’ texturing of horror runs deep, as does the embodied enfolding of screen and viewer. Just as the kiss wants to bite, the film’s depiction of “touch wants to split, break or tear the skin […] the skin is here to be broken and explored, under as well as on its surface”.  For instance, Coré at one point literally opens a fold of flesh she has torn from the young boy’s body. Placing her fingers inside the wound, she then probes around its innermost reaches. As Nancy asserts, the murder scenes are indicative of “a bitten, broken screen” whereby the dense materiality of Denis’ images and sounds tear “forwards from it toward us, but also backwards, toward a background that is all the deeper and more distant for being contained within the image, on the surface or the skin of the image”. 
Through its skin-deep evocation of open wounds, torn or ripped flesh and bloodied, hungry mouths, Trouble Every Day enfolds the inside/out of the image to erase both spatial and emotive distinctions between an interior and an exterior of the representation. In a very real sense, we experience a breaching of the skin and a rupturing of the film through the physicality of our being immersed in its scenes of horror. Denis reaches into the corporeal depths of the viewer to elicit the visceral sensations of wounding in our “bone and guts”; simultaneously, our limbs may tense up, shift with disgust and or physical discomfort; we might have to cover our mouth or look away.  As Shaviro aptly remarks of our bodily engagements with horror, all the “jolts and spasms that run through my body at the sight of all this gore, threaten to tear me apart as well”. 
Alongside its horrific textures of sensation, however, Trouble Every Day incites more vital, seductive and intimate absorptions in the sensuality of the image/screen as well. Such absorptions are instigated, for example, by its very first images and sounds; as we are beckoned into the velvety darkness of the image, its faint flecks of the light, the soft pulse of the soundtrack and the intimate atmosphere of the lovers. By way of Denis’ privileging of the surface textures of body and world and the blurring of their distinctions between one another, I become sensuously enfolded in this film through the exquisite beauty as well as the melancholia of the composition. Whether attending to the waters of the Seine (as it resembles a moving fabric at dawn), the plush toys that adorn the truck windshield of one of Coré’s victims, the soft fuzz of Coré’s blue suede shoe, or the glistening viscosity of blood on blades of grass, Trouble Every Day is imbued with a material-visuality that enfolds the spaces of film and viewer into a shared sensuality. Often, I find myself deeply absorbed in it because of Denis’ attention to the lures of its material details – the eroticised images of skin brushing against skin, a bright green scarf that is lost to the breeze of a cold grey sky and the touching collection of small soaps and jams that Christelle pockets on her rounds of the hotel. Recalling Cataldi on the immersion of the emotions, feeling oneself to be in deep states of emotion also characterises the neo-baroque textures of Trouble Every Day; feel ourselves to be physically and spatially immersed in horror, disgust, revulsion, beauty, melancholia and so on.
Such immersions in the cinema are only possible due to the embodied and emotive linkages that can occur between film and viewer. As Vivian Sobchack writes, watching a film “we can see the seeing as well as the seen, hear the hearing as well as the heard, and feel the movement as well as the moved”.  It is, however, by way of Denis’ particular attention to the intertwining of surface and depth, to the sensuous expressivity of the surface and the “textures of the material world” – as these foster depth-full emotive and spatial encounters – that Trouble Every Day can create a heightened sense of enfoldment between film, body and world.  Such a cine-aesthetic is entirely befitting of the liberation of matter and the textural infinite that Deleuze conceptualises as the baroque fold.
In The Fold, Deleuze discusses the baroque as an organisation of the world along two vectors. This organisation is what the philosopher describes as the external “pleats of matter” and the inner “folds in the soul”, or what Leibniz would identify as the monad, as it expresses a unique but interconnected point-of-view on an infinite world.  The two levels are separate but united by the “fold that echoes itself, arching from the two sides”, as in a crease that appears in the surface of a cloth.  Deleuze’s dynamic and materialist grasp of the baroque entails a mutual, embodied communication between the pleats of matter and the realm of spiritual/mental experiences, joined by “the fold of the two levels” that overlaps each other.  Interleaving world, body and soul, Deleuze proposes that matter can trigger vibrations in the mind/soul while “the folds in the soul resemble the pleats of matter, and in that fashion they are directing them”. 
In Trouble Every Day, Denis’ neo-baroque textures are steeped in the pleats of matter, at the same time as matter gives rise to new folds and fabrications of thought. In the airplane sequence, for instance, the film lingers on the shapes, contours and surfaces of the plane – as well as the bodies housed within it – to showcase their textual divergences; from the contrasting black-and-white clothing of the couple to the soft skin of an upturned arm, as compared to the heavy wet cloth that covers June in Shane’s fantasy. At the same time, the material visuality of the film enacts a decidedly textural patterning of experience that creates its own modes of critical interpretation. Our glimpse of the vertical light path of the airplane floor resembles the geometric order and precision of the cityscape, seen outside the plane, as well as the rational, white and ordered spaces of science and medicine that recur in the film. Similarly, the bloodied shapes that coat June in Shane’s fantasy texturally anticipate Coré’s monstrous drawings, later on.
Seen pacing back and forth, her nightgown and her skin streaked with blood, Coré is positioned against a wall marked with abstract patterns. Coré has traced these huge semi-circular shapes across one of her household walls, leaving her handprints and smudges behind, as well as the freshly drawn blood of her victim. The curved patterns and drips of her frenzied, bloodied painting also resonate with other moments – with the bite-mark seen on June’s shoulder; the cut on her lip, sustained by Shane’s ravenous kiss and by the endless rivulets of blood that close the film, as it pre-empts a violent and bloodied future that “will not be washed away” from sanitised spaces. 
Comparing shifts and speeds in thinking to the unfolding of a fabric, Deleuze asserts that “knowledge is known only were it is folded”.  Here, Deleuze alerts us to the ways in which the comprehension of matter and materials can stir folds in the soul, just as thought itself is textured. Given their interest in the materiality of both film and embodied perception, Denis (like other directors of the French cinema of sensation) has been read through the critical work of Bataille and, in particular, his concept of the informe as it works to blur distinctions between figure and ground and self and other through the aesthetics of sensual chaos.  But Trouble Every Day is precisely not resistant to any kind of formal categorisation. Rather than the formlessness of the informe, Denis’ film can rightly be understood as neo-baroque through its multiple and embodied enfoldings.
The fold – as, at once, a sensuous and thoughtful figuration of the baroque – is of great relevance to Trouble Every Day. Unlike the irrational seductions of chaos and the void in Bataillean interpretations of the film, Denis’ audio-visual compositions are experienced as sensuously dense and multi-layered. After all, according to Deleuze, “the Baroque Leibniz does not believe in the void. For him it always seems to be filled with a folded matter […] For Leibniz, and in the baroque, folds are always full”.  Similarly, Denis’ enfolding of surfaces, spaces and materials is thick with a layering of matter and meaning. The killing sequence of Coré, for example, does not “veer towards the formless” as Beugnet has claimed.  While noticeably dark – folding in and out of visibility like the rich tonalities of a historic baroque drapery – this scene does not entail the experience of abstraction. The faces of Coré and her lover/victim are visible, if obscure, partially framed or hidden behind hair. Furthermore, the film insistently returns its focus, throughout, to a tight close-up on their mouths, as these become progressively bloodied, torn and gaping open. This same motif or textural pattern appears again in the shocking imagery of Shane’s open and bleeding mouth, as it emerges into view directly after his killing and mauling of Christelle.
As Nancy suggests, the “entire carnivorous breed” of the vampire and pre-cinematic histories of the devouring kiss are encapsulated by Coré when she raises her coat to the sky, in a pointed homage to Nosferatu (F.W. Murnau, 1922).  Similar allusions occur through the bloodied kisses and the persistent textural patterning. Locked up in her house and peering out through its bars, Coré recalls the tradition of the literary Gothic, while the circular movements in the empty hotel evoke The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980). Likewise, the scratch marks that Coré tears into her furniture and bedding evoke the dangerous feline sexuality of Cat People (Jacques Tourneur, 1942); as do her panther-like gestures or those moments in which Coré and Shane crouch, like animals. Shane, at one point, even impersonates the iconic figures of Frankenstein and Count Orlock during a visit to the cathedral of Notre-Dame. Denis herself has cited a number of important influences, including vampire and horror films, fairytales and childhood stories about monsters, African stories about half-human and half-panther creatures, and the alienated landscapes of Canadian photographer Jeff Wall.  In Trouble Every Day, the re-staging of key images, sounds, textures and gestures from all these influences appeals to the immanence of embodied experience and to our recognition of its reflexive patterns. The textural patterns move back and forth in time and across artistic media, activating the baroque and forming a composite enfolding that connects the pleats of matter to folds in the soul.
Trouble Every Day is an instance of neo-baroque filmmaking. Through its heightened fabrication of the image/screen, its material visuality and its enfolding of surfaces, spaces and materials, it functions as a deep-seated, surface-driven and highly textural encounter that enacts a series of sensuous as well as thoughtful folds. Here, the film and viewer who partake of such neo-baroque textures of sensation can be likened to the twist of a ream of fabric – they are materially and mutually enfolded into one another, much like the textured drapery of a Bernini statue. And as with the longstanding materiality of the baroque that preceded it, Trouble Every Day bestows on cinema and its viewer the “gift of perceptual intensity in order to strengthen [our] bond with matter”. 
 Martine Beugnet, Cinema and Sensation: French Film and the Art of Transgression (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press 2007), p. 82. On Denis’ cinema and its implicit connections to the body, see also Elena del Rio, Deleuze and the Cinemas of Performance: Powers of Affection (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2008), pp. 148-177; and Judith Mayne, Claire Denis (Urbana: Indiana University Press, 2005).
 Tim Palmer, Brutal Intimacy: Analyzing Contemporary French Cinema (Middleton: Wesleyan University Press, 2011), p. 57.
 Reports of mass walkouts and fainting accompanied the initial Cannes screenings. See Mayne, Claire Denis, p. 107. On the controversy of Denis’ film in the press, see Palmer, Brutal Intimacy.
 Beugnet, Cinema and Sensation, p. 44; Douglas Morrey, “Textures of Terror: Claire Denis’ Trouble Every Day”, Belphégor, 3, 2 (2004), available online: http://etc.dal.ca/belphegor/vol3_no2/articles/03_02_Morrey_textur_en_cont.html.
Accessed 14 September 2013.
 Beugnet, Cinema and Sensation, pp. 33, 40. For her, the French cinema of sensation is shaped by the Batillean principle of the informe. See also Martine Beugnet, “Evil and the Senses: Philippe Grandrieux’s Sombre and La Vie nouvelle”, Studies in French Cinema, 5, 3 (2005), pp. 175-184.
 This essay builds upon Morrey’s interpretation of the film as he reads its sensuality through Gilles Deleuze’s concept of the fold. See Morrey, “Textures”.
 According to Marks, in haptic visuality “vision can be tactile, as though one were touching a film with one’s eyes”; this occurs usually in relation to viewing proximate and indeterminate imagery. See Laura Marks, The Skin of the Film: Intercultural Cinema, Embodiment and the Senses (Durham: Duke University Press, 2000), p. xi. On the neo-baroque as an aesthetically complex but non-narrative form, see Laura Marks, Enfoldment and Infinity: An Islamic Genealogy of New Media Art (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2010), pp. 168-188.
 Gilles Deleuze (trans. Tom Conley), The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1993), p. 4.
 Tom Conley, “The Baroque Fold as Map and as Diagram” in Helen Hills (ed.), Rethinking the Baroque (Surrey & Burlington: Ashgate, 2011), p. 204.
 Sebastian Scholz and Hanna Surma, “Exceeding the Limits of Representation: Screen and/as Skin in Claire Denis’ Trouble Every Day (2001)”, Studies in French Cinema, 8, 1 (2008), p. 11.
 Tindersticks have also scored Denis’ Nénette and Boni, 35 Shots of Rum and White Material. In another indication of the sensory aesthetics of Denis, they were involved in the conceptualisation of Trouble Every Day as well. See Mayne, Claire Denis, p. 23.
 Ibid., p. 113.
 The film never mentions ‘vampire’ or ‘cannibal’ in its sparse dialogue, although it makes constant allusions to the horror genre.
 Becky Peterson, “Fabric in Film and Film as Fabric: Maya Deren’s Meshes of the Afternoon”, Textile, 18, 2 (2010), p. 227.
 Susan Stewart, Poetry and the Fate of the Senses (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003), pp. 163-164.
 Vivian Sobchack, The Address of the Eye: A Phenomenology of the Film Experience (Princeton: University of Princeton, 1991), p. 133.
 Mayne, Claire Denis, p. 129.
 Lois Parkinson Zamora, The Inordinate Eye: New World Baroque and Latin American Fiction (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006), p. 267.
 Svetlana Alpers, The Art of Describing: Dutch Art in the Seventeenth-Century (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983), p. 31.
 Ibid., p. 31.
 Marks, Enfoldment, p. 108.
 Beugnet, Cinema, p. 43.
 Erwin Panofsky, “What is Baroque?” in Irving Lavin (ed.), Three Essays on Style (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1995), p. 51.
 Morrey, “Textures”, p. 5.
 Bal, “Baroque Matters” in Helen Hills (ed.), Rethinking the Baroque (Surrey & Burlington: Ashgate, 2011), p. 184.
 Deleuze, The Fold, p. 3.
 Ibid., p. 126
 Tom Conley, “Translator’s Foreword”, The Fold, pp. xi – xiii.
 Conley, “Folds and Folding”, in Charles Stivale (ed.), Gilles Deleuze: Key Concepts (Trowbridge: Acumen, 2011).
 Deleuze, The Fold, pp. 5, 121.
 Ibid., p. 5.
 Conley, “Folds”, p. 173.
 Ibid., p. 180.
 Gilles Deleuze (trans. Martin Joughin), “On Leibniz”, Negotiations 1972 -1990 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990), pp. 156-159.
 Deleuze, The Fold, p. 3; see also pp. 34-37.
 Ibid., p. 125; see also Beugnet, Cinema of Sensation, p. 32, on the more life-affirming traits of the French cinema of sensation.
 Deleuze, The Fold, pp. 115, 122.
 Giuliana Bruno, “Surface, Fabric, Weave: The Fashioned World of Wong-Kar wai” in Adrienne Munich (ed.), Fashion in Film (Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2011), p. 85.
 Guiliana Bruno, “Pleats of Matter, Folds in the Soul” in D.N Rodowick (ed.), Afterimages of Gilles Deleuze’s Film Philosophy (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002), p. 220.
 Deleuze, The Fold, p. 122.
 Ibid., p. 34.
 Douglas Morrey, “Open Wounds: Body and Image in Jean-Luc Nancy and Claire Denis”, Film-Philosophy, 12, 1 (April 2008), pp. 12-13.
 Ibid., p. 4.
 Jean-Luc Nancy, “Icon of Fury: Claire Denis’ Trouble Every Day”, Film-Philosophy, 12, 1 (April 2008), p. 7.
 See Morrey, “Textures”, pp .4-5; see also Beugnet, p. 44.
 Deleuze, The Fold, p. 122.
 Alpers, The Art of Describing, pp. 90-91.
 Bal, “Baroque Matters”, p. 200.
 Mayne, Claire Denis, p. 110.
 Shaviro, “Trouble Every Day”.
 Deleuze, The Fold, p. 35; see also Conley, “Folds”.
 Conley, “Folds”, p. 174.
 Nancy, “Icon of Fury”, p. 4.
 Beugnet, Cinema and Sensation, p. 45; see also Morrey, “Textures”, p. 5.
 Bal, “Baroque Matters”, p. 188; see also Bal, Quoting Caravaggio: Contemporary Art, Preposterous History (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999), on the notion of enfoldment or entanglement as being the most appropriate figure for baroque and neo-baroque aesthetic relations between bodies.
 Deleuze, The Fold, p. 29; Beugnet, “The Wounded Screen”, in Tanya C. Horeck and Tina Kendell (eds), The New Extremism in Cinema: From France to Europe (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2011), p. 38.
 See Davide Panagia, “The Effects of Viewing: Caravaggio, Bacon and The Ring”, Theory and Event, 10, 4 (2007), on surface and depth in Caravaggio.
 Susan Cataldi, Emotion, Depth and Flesh: A Study of Sensitive Space (Albany: State University of New York, 1993), p. 27
 Nancy, “Icon of Fury”, p. 8.
 Morrey, “Open Wounds”, p. 17. Morrey also notes that Nancy uses the French verb fouiller in his essay on the film; this boasts nauseating connotations of a skin-deep excavation, as in “to dig in and root around”.
 Nancy, “Icon of Fury”, p. 6.
 Drew Leder, The Absent Body (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990), p. 36.
 Steven Shaviro, The Cinematic Body (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993), p. 103.
 Sobchack, Address of the Eye, p.10.
 Morrey, “Textures”, p. 3.
 Deleuze, The Fold, pp. 3, 23.
 Ibid., pp. 4, 29.
 Ibid., p. 120.
 Ibid., p. 98; see also Conley, “Folds”.
 Martine Beugnet, “The Wounded Screen”, p. 38.
 Deleuze, The Fold, p. 49.
 See Beugnet, Cinema and Sensation, pp. 22-62; see also her “Evil and the Senses”.
 Deleuze, The Fold, p. 36.
 Beugnet, Cinema and Sensation, p. 107.
 Nancy, “Icon of Fury”, p. 1.
 Mayne, Claire Denis, p. 109.
 Bal, “Baroque Matters”, p. 197.
© Saige Walton and Screening the Past September 2013