Back from a tour of duty in Afghanistan with intermittent hearing loss and a major case of PTSD, French Special Forces soldier Vincent (Matthias Schoenaerts) takes a temporary security job, with some other moonlighting serviceman, guarding the Cote d’Azur estate of Lebanese international fixer Walid (Percy Kemp) during a ritzy society party. 

After proving himself to be a man who can be trusted when he accidentally overhears a meeting Walid is having with some dodgy politicians and some dodgier Arab arms dealers, Vincent is hired by Walid to bodyguard his beautiful German trophy wife Jessie (Diane Kruger) and young son Ali (Zaid Errougui-Demonsant) while he’s out of the country conducting a shady deal. 

Seemingly ignorant of her husband’s more nefarious business dealings, Jessie largely ignores the hulking Vincent, leaving him to roam the labyrinthine corridors of the house in the company of Walid’s hound, keeping an ever-watchful eye on Jessie and Ali using the estate’s extensive CCTV system.

But when Walid is arrested at the Swiss border and masked assailants try to kidnap Jessie and her son, they are forced to rely on the increasingly violent, paranoid Vincent who’ll do whatever it takes to keep his charges safe… 

A drastic change of pace after her 2012 costume drama debut Augustine, writer/director Alice Winocour’s taut, suspenseful, existential thriller Disorder is a refreshingly low-key exercise in knife-edge tension that sees the hunky, soulful Schoenaerts add another portrait of haunted masculinity in crisis to his repertoire. 

His taciturn hero is an outwardly controlled bundle of raw nerves, plagued by auditory and visual hallucinations, self-medicating to suppress the PTSD that afflicts him, a career soldier chewed up and thrown away by the system that created him. Paranoid and frustrated, unable to even trust his own senses and instincts, Vincent himself may just be the biggest threat to Jessie and her son. 

While she has considerably less to do than the magnetic Schoenaerts, Kruger is luminous and aloof as trophy wife Jessie, ambiguous but sympathetic, she’s impressively unshowy as a dissatisfied woman seeking escape from the gilded cage that confines her, inexorably drawn to her wounded bear of a protector. 

While the plot has more holes than the unlucky kidnappers Schoenaerts shoots, stabs and batters seven shades out of, at one point getting all Nicolas Winding Refn on one attacker’s skull with a glass coffee table, Wincour introducing and leaving dangling wider conspiracy plot threads in favour of concentrating on Vincent’s broken psyche, Disorder proves to be an unsettling, moody thriller that’s creeping sense of dread and untrustworthy soundscape once more showcases Schoenaerts’ brand of macho vulnerability.

 

DVD Review: Disorder
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