After being temporarily put on sick leave, special services solider Vincent Loreau (Schoenaerts) is hired to protect the wife of Imad Wahlid (Kemp), a wealthy Lebanese businessman who is leaving town for a few days to attend a high profile meeting with a French minister. Loreau struggles with anxiety attacks, sensory overload and hallucinations caused by the post-traumatic stress disorder he suffers from as a result of years in the military. He is initially met with mistrust and hostility from the woman he has to protect as she believes him to be paranoid, yet Vincent truly believes there is an imminent threat to her and her son Ali (Errougui-Demonsant). As Vincent digs deeper into the details of her husband’s business, they both soon realise that his instincts may be far from paranoid.
Disorder is a great character piece dealing with the anxiety and mental struggles of post-combat personnel reintroduced into society. The varying levels of trust someone with a military background is afforded when paranoia and a heightened sense of danger are at odds with each other is consistently under scrutiny. This is where Schoenaerts excels, in a similar vein to his role as a subdued boyfriend struggling with the fallout of alcoholism in A Bigger Splash. His performances seem to work best when he’s not speaking, when he drives his character from expressions and observation. The grave results impacted upon the solider on the ground jarringly contrasts with the opulent existence of those who profit from the war industry. These frustrating ethics are thoughtfully explored, never sermonised yet expertly woven into the story.
Winocour is wonderfully intent on crafting confusion here. There is more crossing the line than an angry Alex Ferguson pushing the boundaries of the technical area, and the music is discordant enough to give various members of Mogwai worrying looks at each other across the rehearsal room. The somewhat flimsy plot can be forgiven due to the excellent depiction of a man struggling to control his emotional and mental state, pushed along with subtle filmmaking and a beautifully natural dialogue.
Kruger does what is needed as the pampered wife of a billionaire as she dismisses the workers around her as necessary annoyances, conversing only when absolutely essential. Her performance however, along with a decent supporting cast including happily functioning ex-solider Denis (Hamy), seems to exist only to drive Schoenaerts along.
The only criticism possible to aim at Disorder is that it sometimes struggles with its identity. At times it feels like an in-depth dissection of the struggles of a post-traumatic stress disorder, yet at others an out and out action thriller. Disorder just about manages to balance the two, yet it’s interesting that the UK release version has had its title changed from Maryland to Disorder, suggesting a UK audience may need a little more guiding down the sensitive route of mental illness.
Disorder is a thoughtful piece, excellently paced with a superb performance from Schoenaerts. It loses its direction a few times along the way but just about manages to pull itself back on the tracks a moment before the wheels come off altogether.
3 / 5
Dir: Alice Winocour
Scr: Alice Winocour, Jean-Stéphane Bron
Cast: Matthias Schoenaerts, Diane Kruger, Paul Hamy, Percy Kemp, Zaïd Errougui-Demonsant
Prd: Emilie Tisné
DOP: Georges Lechaptois
Music: Mike Lévy
Country: France, Belgium
Run Time: 98 Minutes
Disorder is out on Blu-Ray and DVD from the 25th July.