An intense and intimate voyeuristic thriller

How many films are there that feature a character with PTSD (post-traumatic-stress-disorder)? Then, let’s narrow it down, how many of the those films are about PTSD sufferers who fought in Afghanistan?  Finally, how many of those films use the PTSD to shape the storytelling process, making the story as unreliable as it’s narrator? I suspect that Disorder may be alone in this regard which makes for a mostly refreshing if at times nerve-splintering film-watching experience.

Vincent (Matthias Schoenaerts ) is a French Special Forces soldier who is currently back from a tour of Afghanistan. His latest health check-up indicates that it will be his last as due to his various  health problems his doctor will not be recommending him for service, something that he appears to be in denial about. He and a group of his friends are hired by Jessie (Diane Kruger), the wife of a rich Lebanese  businessman, to provide security at a party they are holding at her villa. Vincent starts to develop a strange fascination with Jessie, whilst at the same time starting to suspect a dangerous threat is going to target her and her young son, and he begins to be consumed by paranoia. Is there really a threat, or is it a result of his disorder?

A month ago, in my review for A Bigger Splash I talked about Matthias Schoenaerts and said “He is currently one of the most interesting and underappreciated supporting actors in cinema at the moment, and I greatly look forward to seeing more of his (admittedly rather beautiful) self.” After seeing Disorder, I stand by what I said. Schoenaerts carries this movie, his scowl/brooding combination is utilized to excellent effect. His mannerisms subtly display his inner turmoil, he never needs to clearly state ‘I am suffering from PTSD’ (in fact that is something his character who never admit) but it’s clear from every single scene that this is a man who is suffering. Vincent’s innate paranoia served with a side of voyeurism makes for an unnerving central character who is haunted but hunky. In fact whilst watching his performance I remembered some of the minor backlash that James Norton received for Happy Valley with a (thankfully small  minority) saying that he was ‘too good-looking to be a murderer’. It’s a stupendously flawed logic to have, implying that attractiveness and committing crime share a correlation. Yes Schoenaerts is attractive, but that does not enhance nor detract from his performance here. His performance is wonderful, if that adjective can be used to describe something so unsettling, and the best thing about the film.

A close-tied second place would be the soundtrack and the cinematography. The former is throbbing, jarring and frequently atonal (like Vincent’s mental state) whilst the latter is ambiguous, swamped by shadows and at times unhinged (again like Vincent’s mental state). Aside from these aspects, the film itself is rather slow with a rather porous plot that fizzles out. Worth seeing for Schoenaerts latest in an uninterrupted run of solid and charismatic performances, but rather forgettable.

An outstanding central performance in a good/mediocre film. Don’t put it too high on your ‘must-see list’ but worth a try.



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