Disorder: Unhinged on every level
by Fabien Lemercier
- CANNES 2015: Alice Winocour delves into genre film with a thriller about an ex-soldier suffering with PTSD turned bodyguard
He was part of a pack and now here he is, separated from normality as if by a pane of glass that transforms in a crisis to distort his visual and auditive perception of reality, causing him to lose control of his body, which starts to act as if according to a sixth sense. By choosing to centre her second feature film, Disorder [+see also:
interview: Alice Winocour
film profile], around a soldier left reeling from his experiences in military operations overseas, Alice Winocour combines distorted inner experience with the traditional codes of the thriller genre against a backdrop of politico-economic corruption, with elements of the work of Stanley Kubrick and Michael Mann most notably. Unveiled in the Certain Regard section of the 68th Cannes Film Festival, where the filmmaker also presented her debut feature film, Augustine [+see also:
film profile] (screened in Critics' Week in 2012) which already showed an interest in the swirling waters of the mind (hysteria and Charcot), the film uses paranoia and secrecy to construct a very physical division portrayed by Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts (Bullhead [+see also:
interview: Bart Van Langendonck
interview: Michaël R. Roskam
film profile], Rust and Bone [+see also:
interview: Jacques Audiard
interview: Jacques Audiard
film profile]) with his usual strength.
Tormented by the sword of Damocles that forever hangs over his head since his career as a soldier and by the unpredictable violent reactions of his body, Vincent earns a living by working in (high level) security. This is how he ends up in an opulent house in Maryland, for a large party organised by the Lebanese owner for guests including the Secretary of the Interior. The house is highly secure: there's a team of guards, a guard dog, and CCTV with cameras places inside and out of the sprawling home. On the lookout by professional atavism, sharpened by the effects of his PTSD, Vincent quickly notices theres tension in the air and overhears a conversation alluding to a form of corruption that could affect the next national elections if it were to be discovered. Just as he is about to go into meltdown, he finds himself assigned, alone this time, to protect the wife (Diane Kruger) and the young son of the mysterious Lebanese owner of the house, who turns out to be an arms dealer guarding compromising secrets. Little by little, the possibly imaginary threats troubling Vincent become a dangerous reality...
Not leaving Vincent's side for one minute in his neverending patrols, day and night, of the house and its vast park, interspersed with shots of him watching the video monitors and small moments in which the two protagonists learn to get to know one another, Alice Winocour exploits the potential of her setting and creates a thriller built on anxiety and outbursts of violence. By placing the unhinged state of mind of Vincent in parallel with that of society in general (using simple suggestion), the director adopts a strategy of tension which is generally solid, but undoubtedly more predictable than she was hoping for. On the other hand, the portrayal of Vincent's fits using slow-motion and out-of-focus shots among other techniques is perhaps not such a good idea, as it fails to completely meet her objective of depicting a borderline state of mind, overly simplifying the development of the plot. This doesn't mean the film isn't effective, or isn't a very interesting attempt at grafting a typically American genre onto young generations of French filmmakers who are starting to explore new areas to attract new audiences.
(Translated from French)