By Rory McInnes-Gibbons
Ironically, for a film called Disorder, this is a sleek, highly structured and intense thriller. The best drama sucks you in. Ninety minutes fly past in a nanosecond, engrossed in the action of the plot. Nothing else exits. You forget it. From revision cards to student debt, all goes out the window and into the fierce force of the screen.
Disorder is not one of those films. Nor is it trying to be. Long stretches are dull, dull, dull and boring just for measure. Admittedly, Matthias Schoenaerts (Vincent) is captivating. But show me any actor walking around a swimming pool in a dark suit, sitting at the beach in a khaki t-shirt or standing next to a gate, and it is hard to inject sufficient energy to transform the mundanity into top cinema.
But the suspense makes the sudden, explosive return to intense action all the more rewarding. The film watches a little like Schoenaerts’ face. On the face of it, a little dull, slightly featureless and lacking charisma. His Vincent possesses a kind of rat-like quality, dredged up from the sewers of the characterless French suburbs. Then the camera zooms in on the centre. Those bad boy scars come into focus with the tattoos and you realise this is a man who means business. From mundanity comes drama.
Schoenaerts takes on a range of roles. The Antwerp actor is a talent who embraces the diversity of his casting and linguistic options, considering the Flemish speaker often finds himself in French or English. Here, he is firmly French. From period flicks like Carey Mulligan starring Far from the Madding Crowd or Eddie Redmayne’s The Danish Girl through to A Bigger Splash, with Ralph Fiennes and Tilda Swinton, he sees some seriously famous faces. Perhaps the most relevant role here is his bad guy opposite Tom Hardy inThe Drop.
Schoenaerts has a brooding onscreen presence, underplaying in front of the camera at the risk of barely acting at all. Through minimalist means, he is able to capture the nagging agony of PTSD. Disorder is at once both a classically composed suspense thriller and a tactful, acute portrait of a soldier’s return from Afghanistan. It is a mature realisation of the stresses and strains that see a young man transported from combat to the inadequacy of the domestic setting. Vincent’s (Schoenaerts) struggle must resonate with the reality of experience
Vincent’s past is given no time to distract from the plot. The credits are a patrol marching through Helmand, the troop’s bouncing beat of boot becoming the soundtrack to the film’s early scenes. We leave Afghanistan with that one, lasting shot. Then, like real life, we go back to real life. Sketching character in the briefest possible fashion, director Alice Winocour then dumps us back in an anonymous block of French flats.
Picking up his pistols and dropping them in a sports’ bag, we instantly see that Vincent does not have the most peaceful of peace time professions. As part of a security team, he is tasked with protecting a plush, extravagant party of a Lebanese power broker complete with politicians to boot. Then we find our man by his swimming pool.
The party proceeds swimmingly, only when Vincent is left alone to babysit the host’s wife and child do things darken and the realities of security come into play. Model turned Helen of Troy, Diane Kruger plays Jessie, locked in the trauma of a world quite simply out of her control. We realise the reality of security. It is impossible. There is no such thing in the twenty first century.
If even a gun toting Schoenaerts has this much trouble protecting a small child and his mum down the beach in the sunny French riviera, you have to ask what the hopes are for the dictators of this world. No spoiler, but the car chase scene and the ensuing car park contretemps with two rather intemperate men is a highlight of the film and genuine edge of your (car) seat stuff.
As the drivers’ side window pane shatters and a hand juts into the car, we seem to follow even the action scenes from the first person perspective of Schoenaerts’ Vincent. It is quite a dependency on our main man, but he pulls through the trials and tribulations of the task to provide a protagonist with sufficient force to animate the character, alongside the action of this tightly taut thriller.
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