By Adam Ray Palmer
Continuing with Cineroom’s objective to cover a more diverse range of film, I visited the Phoenix Cinema in Leicester on Wednesday to catch a French drama named Disorder.
Cineroom has decided to review more foreign films and the Phoenix is great place to visit for these movies with its friendly and homely environment – let alone a great choice of movies.
Today’s film stars Hollywood’s Diane Kruger and soon-to-be a household name Matthias Schoenaerts, who I luckily had the pleasure of meeting last September in Venice…
Disorder centres on ex-solider Vincent who suffers with PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder). He is hired to protect the wife and child of a wealthy Lebanese businessman while he's out of town. Despite the apparent tranquillity on Maryland (the French title for the film), Vincent perceives an external threat.
I was drawn to this film for two reasons. Firstly, the narrative seemed really intriguing and I love the feeling of watching an edge-of-your-seat thriller in the cinema. The second reason was Matthias Schoenaerts. I spent some time with Matthias last September after watching him in The Danish Girl and A Bigger Splash (also just finished a run at the Phoenix). He is charismatic, intelligent and a superb actor. I am yet to see him perform in a role that is anything less than great – and that goes for Disorder too.
We first meet Vincent (Matthias) after he has just completed a mission. He is diagnosed with PTSD and immediately relieved of his duties in the military so he can recover before being re-assessed. He turns to his friend for help with employment. His friend Denis lines up a ‘bodyguard job’ for some extra cash – this is where Disorder comes into its own.
Alice Winocour directs a film with two parts. Winocour impresses throughout by flirting between genres but without the film becoming a mess – a very difficult task. Alice has a firm grip on what she wants out of Disorder with Kruger and Schoenaerts assisting her with stellar performances. Disorder begins by setting the audience up for a psychological drama before introducing Diane Kruger to the table. Alice provides a potential romantic twist to the film with Kruger’s character. However, it’s the latter half of the film where it gets nail-bitingly good as Winocour switches it up once again to a deadly cat-and-mouse thriller.
You would expect momentum to wane as some side-plots are left unresolved, but it perhaps makes Disorder a stronger film as the tension builds for when the home-invasion sequences arrive. Most credit must go the director here but a haunting performance from Matthias really gets the heart pumping.
Winocour is the main catalyst in Disorder’s success as she also wrote the script. Her eye for tension building is what makes this film tick. With Vincent being our main source of hope throughout, the audience are inclined to back him. However, as he suffers with panic attacks, hears noises and develops spasms and paranoia; we actually contemplate whether he is in fact the real danger to the family. The only hint we receive that he is the ‘good guy’ is by the affection Vincent and the family’s dog share for each other. It’s only when the climatic half an hour begins and the genre transitions into a thrilling siege movie – that we have more answers than questions.
Matthias shines in a role that’s ambitious and demanding as he tussles with his inner demons. The understated Kruger is on hand to offer what is the definition of a great supporting role. She provides the other half of the key for the leading pair’s ‘will-they-won’t-they’ relationship but I think Winocour uses that side-plot as a throw-off for the final showdown. Alice nails the ‘hybrid movie’ as she manipulates the audience with the characters and the inclusion of a variety of genres.
I think Hollywood isn’t far away for Alice; she has delivered a polished gem. If Winocour can create a tension-filled thriller on a shoe-string budget, imagine what she could do with a Tinseltown bank balance. It’s the integration of arthouse techniques across multiple genres which is the real impressive quality and I am sure it won’t go unnoticed.
Cineroom’s Rating: 4 Stars
Disorder has a limited cinema release UK-wide – Certificate 15