Director: Alice Winocour
Cast: Matthias Schoenaerts, Diane Kruger, Paul Hamy and Zaïd Errougui-Demonsant
Running Time: 98 minutes
Release Date: March 25th
After what seemed to be an endless run of roles casting him as a hunky romantic lead in films like Suite Française, A Little Chaos, and Far From the Madding Crowd, in Disorder, the second feature from French director Alice Winocour, Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts makes a welcome return to e filme type of character full of sensitive broodiness that helped make him famous in films like Bullhead and Rust and Bone.
Schoenaerts plays Vincent, an Afghanistan vet suffering from PTSD. Upon returning back to his hometown in France, an army buddy of him gets him a job as part of a security for a wealthy Lebanese businessman as he hold an elitist party at his mansion named Maryland. Afterwards Vincent is asked to look after Jessie (Diane Kruger), the businessman’s wife and their young son while he travels out of the country. Soon Vincent starts to believe that someone is after Jessie and her son on account of her husband’s shady dealings. Is this idea merely a symptom of his PTSD or is there something else afoot?
As the film is seen through the point of view of Vincent, Schoenaerts appears in every scene, the question arises of whether or not the threat is real. This ambiguity is used particularly well during the party sequences at Maryland, as Vincent begins to suspect something strange going on with the businessman, particularly after an encounter with a man at the front gate who’s name isn’t on the guest list. It is during this section that Disorder is at its most atmospheric, thanks to a combination of Schoenaerts’ edgy performance, Winocour’s precision at giving a sense of the geography of the mansion, and a fantastic moody ambient score by French electro artist Gesafflelstein.
All this work is slightly undermined by a shift into genre in the second half as it descends into a standard home invasion movie when it turns out that while Vincent is paranoid, people are out to get him. The change from character piece to genre fare doesn’t make for the smoothest of transitions as the plot starts to fall under its own weight. While it could be interpreted as being an extended fantasy of Vincent, and the final image certainly implies as much, they are too many moments where this idea starts to fall apart, such as the level of involvement that the other characters have in Vincent’s delusions. Even as a genre piece, it suffers from too many moments of over familiarity and poor characterisation, most glaringly with the character of Jessie who despite the best efforts of Kruger comes across as one-dimensional which results in a lack of emotional involvement in the relationship she has with Vincent.
None of this is to say that Disorder suddenly becomes a bad film in its second half, in fact thanks to Winocour’s stylish direction, a great soundtrack, and Schoenaerts’ central performance, it is perfectly watchable throughout its running time. it is just that the film feels like a lost opportunity, a slight disappointment when in all hearts to hearts it should have much better. By no means a failure, but not a success either.