Taking a break from the apparent horrors of soldierhood, Vincent (Matthias Schoenaerts) is a brooding, guarded man, whose post-traumatic stress disorder hangs from him like a raincoat. Taking a temporary job as security-slash-bodyguard for a wealthy, and seemingly corrupt, businessman, his intuition, his suspicions, about the safety of the wife Jessie (Diane Kruger) and her son, forces him to stay close – the muted indifference she shows him early on suggests she feels he is like a bad smell at first. Vincent’s brewing anxiety, Jessie’s cagey body language, as well as some shady dealings between the husband and some unsavory suited characters, proposes a potential dilemma or danger ahead. That, or Vincent is too paranoid for his own good.
Disorder implies such predicaments through its slow-burning, poised approach, making us, the audience, wait without leaving us out in the cold. In fact, a huge part of what makes this so magnetic overall, is that the tension builds so delicately through situations presumed awkward or potentially harmful, it brings the balance of suspense and drama smack-bang to the right level. Within this too, there is a finely drawn-out character study, every look, action, word, adds to the flavor of the steadily-progressing narrative. The central relationship between Vincent and Jessie takes a while to get off the ground, understandably, but rather than it bloom into a fully-fledged romance, their conversing is circumspect and somewhat clandestine – even later to an extent when Jessie has little reason or choice not to trust Vincent. The final moment is simply one of the most satisfying closures to a film this year.
In the capable hands of director Alice Winocour (who co-wrote the script with Jean-Stéphane Bron), Disorder is a patient, accomplished picture, too good in its depth to be merely tagged by the thriller or drama genre. Having scored huge success by co-writing the remarkable Mustang with Deniz Gamze Ergüven, Winocour is on fire of late. There’s some fine photography, capturing the beauty of the high-life surroundings, Maryland, on the French Riviera, but also the stories and thoughts behind the faces, in particular Schoenaerts, we can almost see his stress levels rising before our eyes. The actor has stood out in a few projects recently, and there is no reason why his performance here shouldn’t catapult him further into the public eye. Kruger, too, shines, contributing to the film’s compelling toned down execution, with a subtle sound design, there is literally no need to shout to make a powerful mark.