Vincent Loreau (Mathias Schoenaerts) is a French soldier back from Afghanistan. Following inconclusive medical tests, he is assumed to be suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Prone therefore to anxiety, hallucinations and a ringing in his ears, he’s been signed off temporarily from his army role, and in a bid to make ends meet, has taken work in a security capacity along with fellow military friends.
A lavish party thrown by a wealthy Lebanese businessman is the occasion for which Vincent’s talents are required. Together with fellow security personnel, he patrols the grounds, mans the gates and ensures that no unwanted flash points occur between any of the guests. Quite why this would happen at a ‘civilised’ black tie do, we are left in the dark about – at least initially.
Although it’s an evening that proceeds relatively issue-free, Vincent, courtesy of a good word from his friend and colleague, Denis (Paul Hamy), is invited to return to the mansion once again to provide security and general help around the place. This time though he is tasked with looking after the businessman’s wife, Jessie (Dianne Kruger), and their young boy, for an extended period of time whilst the husband is away on business.
Not yet medically cleared to rejoin the army and in need of the money, Vincent accepts the role. The reason for his security presence will soon become apparent as will the gravity of the predicament he will find himself in.
There are two really strong aspects to Disorder, the first of which is Alice Winocour’s direction. Her decision to be in absolutely no rush to reveal anything here, proves to be a wise one. A slowly simmering plot unfolds, gradually, allowing the piece to build in tension and to an extent, it lulls the viewer into a sense of calm. It’s an effective trick and one made all the more easy to pull off thanks to Disorder’s second aspect of great strength; Mathias Schoenaerts.
As with A Bigger Splash earlier this year, Schoenaerts’ role is one of minimal dialogue; smouldering and devastatingly effective, as much because of what he doesn’t say as what he does.
In many ways, Disorder is a straight forward piece. Vincent is employed as a security presence for a reason, and ultimately, with the reality of the scenario revealed, his training and military expertise will come to the fore as he draws upon his considerable skill set in an attempt to keep Jessie and the son safe, but it would be a mistake to believe that Disorder is merely predictable good guy / bad guy fodder.
It’s a lot more than that, but I’ve seen it reviewed as such, bemoaning a lack of action and the substance necessary to sustain it as a feature film – viewing the entire thing as nothing but a vehicle for Schoenaerts to flex and smoulder for the cameras.
Flex and smoulder he does, to an extent, but to view it as nothing but that is to miss the point quite spectacularly. It’s a film of great tension yet it’s all subtly under-stated, and that is to be applauded and admired, if anything.
Artistically shot and moved along by an excellent, painfully cool Mike Lévy soundtrack – deserving of considerable recognition – Disorder is that most rare of things, a genuinely suspenseful, stylish thriller that doesn’t feel it necessary to beat the viewer around the face with the ‘obvious hammer.’
Ignore the mediocre reviews penned by the attention span-lite generation, Disorder is the real deal.