Director Alice Winocour Starring Matthias Schoenaerts, Diane Kruger UK Release Date 25th March 2016
DISORDER employs simplicity to perfection in this instantly classic thriller. How? All the focus remains loyal to Vincent’s (Schoenaerts) condition; his ‘disorder’. His post traumatic stress from serving in Afghanistan for the French army. All the drama, the dark anticipation, the suspense and sexual tension serve as impulses that tug at his central vascular system and agitate the monster within. Everything else is incidental.
DISORDER is essentially the charting of two simultaneous objects of agitation in Vincent’s mind and physical being. The first is his trauma, which causes him acute anxiety, panic attacks and a nervous disposition, probing the army’s doctor to refuse recommendation for him to return to work. During the interim of deliberation while they make their final decision, he accepts private work with a rich Lebanese businessman who is throwing a high-profile, high-risk party, following which he is taken on as personal bodyguard for the man’s wife Jesse (Diane Kruger) and child, Ali (Zaïd Errougui-Demonsant). Jesse is the second object of agitation. Vincent desires her instantly, his gaze following her with more than just professional interest (although the way the two types of gazes – watchful/professional and curious/sexual – are interwoven create much of the film’s tense, heart-beat like pace and air of suspense).
Our mistrust for the shady characters permeating this politically dodgy atmosphere and simultaneous mistrusts for Vincent’s mental state makes for gripping watching: you never know if the bomb going off will come from a genuine outside threat or Vincent’s own lapsing control of reality. Kruger and the young boy are delicate and vulnerable, and we begin to fear for them as much as Vincent does. But stronger than fear is our anticipation for something right around the corner – be it an attack, or the sexual union of the two main characters. Seldom has a film held sway of an audience’s rising adrenaline so relentlessly.
But again, it is the simplicity of the story – the typical unoriginality of genre movie making, even – that facilitates this emotional grip, like the bare bones of a Hitchcock thriller perfectly executed. Much of the geographical reach of the diegetic world is implied rather than shown (through overheard TV news stories and phone calls), so that the attention can stay as close to Vincent as physically possible whilst fleshing out the serious, far-reaching nature of the situation.
This is Matthias Schoenaert’s best role to date (working with director-to-watch Winocour) – his steady demeanour works perfectly to convey a character enduring turmoil from within. Overall this is a masterclass in subtlety, both in the acting and the filmmaking.