Directed by Alice Winocour
Starring Matthias Schoenaerts, Diane Kruger, Paul Hamy
Released on 25th July 2016
Ever been alone in the house and, just as you’re nodding off, you hear something? Or you think you do. If you have, after watching Disorder it’ll take you even longer to get off to sleep, because this is a thriller that knows how to use silence and near-darkness to maximum effect.
Special Services soldier Vincent (Matthias Schoenaerts) is home after a particularly gruelling tour of duty and on medication to help his PTSD. He takes a job with a security team at a party held by a wealthy businessman but when his employer is called away on business, Vincent’s asked to stay at the mansion as bodyguard to the man’s wife and child. He’s sensed from the outset that there’s something not right at the house and now is increasingly convinced that his charges are in extreme danger.
There’s a lot that we don’t know or don’t know for sure and Vincent has the same problem: he’s watching people through security cameras but can’t hear what they say, he observes them through windows but, again, can’t hear what’s being said and he only hears one-sided telephone conversations. We only know what he knows and often that isn’t a great deal. We’re not hampered by paranoia but Vincent certainly is, constantly suspecting there’s a gunman around every corner, a car on their tail when he takes Jessie (Diane Kruger) and her little boy to the beach, in fact menace and threat everywhere. But is he totally wrong?
For the first half of the film, we’re never quite sure, so we’re constantly coping with the unknown. Then, completely out of the blue, we get our answer and so does Vincent. And because it’s at that stage of the film, you can work out for yourself what it is, although I won’t spoil it by spelling it out. We’re still in the dark about some things, though, like exactly what business Jessie’s husband is in. Vincent has his own theory, which he explains to her, and he may be right but we never know for sure. And we don’t know who the assailants are, except that they’re dressed like ninjas.
At the same time, Vincent is becoming more and more attracted to Jessie, the proverbial damsel in distress. He doesn’t show it especially, apart from long, lingering looks, but as they spend more time in each other’s company, there are moments when they become more relaxed and he most definitely doesn’t like it when she flirts with one of his colleagues. But he’ll always be the outsider: she treats him like a servant, which he resents, and as their lives are poles apart, it’s just something that’ll have to remain in his imagination, even if, for one split-second, you think the barrier between them might come down.
The party at the start of the film has plenty of noise and music but, once it’s over, the volume level goes right down, with either unheard or whispered conversations, minimal background music and sparse dialogue. The lighting goes down as well, especially when the power is cut in the house and many of the scenes in the later half of the film are shot at night. And then there’s all those silences. They all add to the tension but by this stage, we’ve moved from a psychological thriller to something more conventional.
After dabbling in romantic leads in the likes of A Little Chaos and Suite Francaise, he’s gone back to playing a tougher, more complex and, boy, does it suit him. Apparently, during filming, he deliberately deprived himself of sleep to get further into his character’s state of pain. It worked as far as his performance was concerned but it did take method acting too far as he ended up in hospital as a result. But it’s a commanding piece of acting that demands your attention.
Disorder doesn’t deliver on all the promise of the first half but, nonetheless, it’s an effective thriller that will jangle your nerves and make you wonder about those strange noises in the dark of night.
Disorder is released on DVD on Monday, 25 July and reviewed on Talking Pictures on Thursday, 28 July.