Starring: Matthias Schoenaerts, Diane Kruger, Paul Hamy
Despite suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, former soldier Vincent (Schoenaerts), takes a job as a member of the security team for a Lebanese businessman and his family. However, when the businessman goes away, Vincent is left alone to protect his wife (Kruger) and son, and must use all his skills to protect them, while also not letting the memories of his past hinder him.
There is a distinct lack of action heroes in cinema today that bring and old school style of brooding physicality, while at the same time showing a level of emotional vulnerability, but one actor that does have this is Belgium’s Matthias Schoenaerts. I am sure a career of straight to DVD action B movies can await him if he so wishes, but so far Schoenaerts has picked some particularly challenging roles. In Disorder, it is his natural physical screen presence and an ability to portray brooding masculine physicality, as well as an understated emotional vulnerability, that is the main factor as to why Alice Wincour’s thriller is such engrossing viewing. The camera stays closely focussed on Schoenaert’s face, making for an often very intense and engrossing viewing experience.
The overall plot of Disorder is admittedly very basic, but as is usually the case with cinema; it is not necessarily about plot, but how that plot is presented, and the visual presentation and Schoenart’s exceptional performance are the key as to why Disorder proves to be such a genuinely gripping, and often edge of your seat, viewing experience.
Wincour certainly understands how to deliver effective cinematic tension, and the film’s opening sequence where Vincent and his colleagues run the security for the businessman’s private party is wonderfully put together. The entire sequence is told from Vincent’s point of view, as we only hear and see what he does, while the camera grips to his face with a close intensity. The taught camerawork and measured pace makes for one truly gripping scene and is definitely the work of a filmmaker very much in control of her film.
As the plot then develops and Vincent is left to protect the businessman’s wife and son, the film admittedly never quite reaches the highs of the opening scene, while the plot is admittedly rather basic. However, sometimes less is more in cinema, and this works very well in Disorder as the audience are often told very little, meaning we not only discover the facts with Vincent, but also share his sense of paranoia. As, like Vincent, we are never truly sure what is going to happen and who we can trust, and also if he is going to experience a panic attack.
However, the main reason as to why Disorder is such gripping viewing is the leading performance of Matthias Schoenaerts; the camera stays closely to him throughout the film, often with intense close ups, and, as usual, he brings the perfect balance of masculinity, but also depicts his character’s deep internal trauma with perfect understatement.
As the plot develops, Wincour and Schoenaerts make sure that the film is far more gipping than the generic plot points should allow it to be, but this is a great example of a director using all the cinematic variables at her disposal to make for a truly gripping thriller.
Despite the slightly generic plot, Disorder is an edge of your seat thriller that grips from start to finish, thanks to a director and actor very much at the top of their game.