Flick Pick: Disorder


Alice Winocour’s latest film, Disorder, arouses all the feelings one expects from thrillers—anxiety, suspense, surprise, dread—without pommeling the viewer with constant, sensory-overloading action. In fact, it’s a rather quiet and slow-paced movie as a whole (somewhat resembling Christian Petzold’s 2014 film Phoenix in that way). But like a good Hitchcock, it’s those moments of silence and stillness that can be most deafening.

Set on the French Riviera, at the villa of an important (and shady) Lebanese businessman, Disorder tells the story of Vincent (Matthias Schoenaerts), a veteran of the Afghan war who now works as a security guard. Hired for a party at the villa, Vincent—who we learn suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder—weaves in and out of conversations, discreetly scrutinizing the guests. The camera follows his perspective, a trick that puts us into his head and forces us to feel his PTSD.

Vincent analyzes the actions of each partygoer. (A guest who isn’t on the list draws instant suspicion.) But he’s also captivated by the businessman’s wife and party cohost Jessie (Diane Kruger), whom he can’t take his eyes off of; she comfortably waltzes around the party like a trophy wife, occasionally catching Vincent’s eye.

Is the threat real? Or is this just PTSD taking hold of the mind of a veteran?

After the party, the owner leaves for a business trip and Vincent is hired on as a bodyguard for Jessie and her son. The audience doesn’t know why Jessie needs protection, or what shady business her husband is in that requires it—but the feeling of impending danger is palpable. As we pace the house in Vincent’s point of view, checking windows and doors to make sure they’re locked, we feel his fear, paranoia and anxiety building. Is the threat real? Or is this just PTSD taking hold of the mind of a veteran?

The striking cinematography and gripping music, combined with an exceptional performance by Schoenaerts—who deserves more credit for his recent roles in Rust and Bone and A Bigger Splash—produce a mysterious, edge-of-your-seat thriller. But it’s the film’s use of stillness and suspense that ultimately makes it a winner for Winocour.

Photo: Everett Collection