DISORDER (France | Belgium/15A/98mins)
Directed by Alice Winocour. Starring Matthias Schoenaerts, Diane Kruger, Paul Hamy, Zaïd Errougui-Demonsant, Percy Kemp.
THE PLOT: Soldier Vincent (Matthias Schoenaerts) has returned from active service, but is struggling with hallucinations and paranoia. To earn some extra cash, he takes on a job as private security for a Lebanese man and his wife Jessie (Diane Kruger).
THE VERDICT: Ah, how refreshing to see Matthias Schoenaerts back in the kinds of roles for which he became known; a soldier, not the kind of romantic hero we have seen him play of late. However, although the first half of ‘Disorder’ plays with sound and images to underline the struggles that Vincent is going through, the film doesn’t have enough payoff to justify its running time.
Matthias Schoaenaerts does well in the role of Vincent, obviously relishing the chance to play a character with darker motivations and issues. The trouble is that while Schoaenaerts allows the tension and paranoia of his character to build, the script then never gives him a chance for a decent payoff. Diane Kruger has less to do as the distant, cold and rather bossy housewife that Vincent is sworn to protect. The rest of the cast features Paul Hamy, Percy Kemp and Zaïd Errougui-Demonsant.
Alice Winocaour recently scot to public attention with her work on the screenplay for Mustang – along with Deniz Gamze Ergüven – and ‘Disorder’ is her second feature length work as director. The screenplay for the film was written in collaboration with Jean-Stéphane Bron, and the first half of the film builds nicely; sound – particularly thumping music beats – and images are used to underline the symptoms of Vincent’s illness, as described by a doctor in the opening scenes. The audience quickly learns of Vincent’s loyalty and strength, but once the film turns into more of a domestic drama – as Vincent looks after the family when Jessie’s husband goes away – it suddenly runs out of steam. On the plus side, the audience is never sure whether Vincent is paranoid or vigilant, but on the downside, the climactic payoff, when it finally arrives – is violent and fast, but unsatisfying.
As director, Alice Winocour does well with the scenes where Vincent is in crowded places, allowing his eyes to linger on behaviours that the rest of us may see as innocent but, again, once the film becomes a housebound drama, there is an attempt to build tension, but the film just feels as though it is dragging its heels.
In all, it is great to see Schoenaerts back in the kind of role for which we first got to know him, but ‘Disorder’ runs out of steam in the middle, leaving the film feels flabby and drawn out. Schoaenaerts has never been one to run from a challenging role, but this is one that let him down.
Review by Brogen Hayes

Review by Brogen Hayes
3.0Runs out of steam
  • filmbuff2011

    Alice Winocour’s second feature Disorder is a taut, tense thriller that relies heavily on a very physical performance from Matthias Schoenaerts. He more than rises to the challenge with this rewarding thriller.

    Vincent (Schoenaerts) has returned from fighting the war in Afghanistan, but he isn’t the same man anymore. He’s suffering from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), but keeps it bottled up and doesn’t talk about it with anyone. He leaves the army and takes up a job on the security detail of wealthy Lebanese businessman Ali (Zaid Errougui-Demonsant), who has links to both the Government and various arms dealers. His wife Jessie (Diane Kruger) doesn’t get involved with his business affairs but instead focuses on being a mother to their son and a host at his parties. With Ali out of town, Jessie and her son are protected by Vincent at all times. Something isn’t quite right though. Cars appear outside the house at night, Vincent believes that they’re being followed and that a kidnapping attempt might be just around the corner. Is he getting overly anxious or is there a very real risk of danger?

    Originally titled Maryland, after Ali and Jessie’s estate, Disorder is a title that is alluded to in one of Vincent’s tattoos – ‘chaos’. Vincent lives in a very ordered world, but his ex-soldier’s instincts tell him that disorder is only a heartbeat, gunshot or moving shadow away. Winocour strips back the dialogue, instead focusing on an intense, internal struggle in the character of Vincent. Schoenaerts builds upon his breakthrough role in Bullhead by making Vincent a flawed but honourable man trying to do his job while also accepting that he’s developing feelings for Jessie. It’s another stand-out performance from Schoenaerts and he’s also well-supported by Kruger.

    Winocour isn’t too concerned with the hows and whys of Ali’s predicament. Some troubles are alluded to, but there are no cut-aways to Ali. If anything, he’s a background character who sets the plot in motion. Winocour is much more interested in the character dynamics between Vincent and Jessie as she turns the screws on her characters, a la Michael Haneke. It doesn’t take the obvious turns, which makes it a more realistic portrayal of two people in desperate times. Winocour also ratchets up the tension when required – a slowly broken car window or a figure moving in the shadows signalling a delayed but imminent danger. Disorder is a smart, stylish French thriller that comes highly recommended. ****