Circle Cinema hosted a showing of the French suspense drama Disorder on Friday. The film was released in 2016, but saw success with critics at festivals before that, leading to director Alice Winocour winning the Special Jury Award for Outstanding Achievement in Direction and a nomination for Un Certain Regard Award at the Cannes Festival in 2015.
The film could best be described as a character study within a psychological thriller. From the beginning, we are brought into the mind of Vincent, a security guard and former French special forces soldier plagued by PTSD. Vincent, played by Matthias Schoenaerts, is put in charge of protecting the family of a Lebanese businessman vacationing in France.
He senses that things are getting sketchy with the family very early on in the film, but he often gets himswelf into trouble because of his intense paranoia. When the husband of the family leaves the country for a business meeting, Vincent becomes the sole protector of his wife, Jessie, played by Diane Kruger, and her son, Ali.
There are a few quiet, intimate moments between Jessie and Vincent, but there is almost never a time where Vincent is not on high alert. He perceives threats everywhere they go, guiding us into intense states of confusion and paranoia with him. Kruger shows off some quality acting in those intimate moments, but due to the film’s focus on Vincent, we don’t get very good moments of character building for anyone other than him. This is mostly because we are enveloped so deeply into his own mind that we really only see what he sees; his reality is fragmented with the flashbacks from his past.
One of the best things about the film is its exploration of the senses. A repetitive beeping sound is played, with varying intensities, whenever Vincent is captured in a PTSD-induced flashback. The film’s music incorporates the beeping into its suspenseful aura. A good number of close ups on shady characters’ faces and necks serve as liaisons from our minds to Vincent’s. The intense focus, coupled with paranoia, on what he perceives to be real threats acts as what drives him and the viewer through the film.
You’re never really sure if Vincent’s paranoia is justified or not, which truly brings you into the state of his mind. You are placed into the world of someone who is stuck in a perpetual state of tension and confusion due to the imagined dangers his disorder brings him, while the film presents very real and very present conflicts as well. As a thriller, Disorder was an entertaining combination of hallucinations and real-world suspense.