Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts has been spotted recently sporting bad wigs and turning up in a variety of period dramas. From Suite Francaise, to Far From the Madding Crowd, to A Little Chaos, to The Danish Girl. It’s been something of a dull year in other words for the immensely talented performer. So needless to say, it’s a joy to see the actor revert back to the sort of projects that thrust him into the limelight in the first place, taking on the role of Vince Loreau in Alice Winocour’s thrilling drama, Disorder, which is far more akin to the likes of Bullhead (2011).
Vincent is a soldier suffering from PTSD, who is employed as part of security team to protect the abode of a Lebanese businessman. While he’s out of town, Vincent is specifically requested to provide a special protection for the client’s wife Jessie (Diane Kruger) and young son. Though developing a somewhat unhealthy obsession with Jessie, Vincent is also adamant that there’s an external threat, though with his condition he is prone to hallucinations and anxiety. So just how much danger this family are truly in remains to be seen.
Disorder is an interesting film for several reasons, and having a female filmmaker on board is one of them, as we embody the protagonist and adopt the male gaze for much of the endeavor. Vincent is a pensive, introverted individual, and while working security he transfixes on Jessie and we see this through his eyes. Schoenaerts has a remarkable ability to display inner turmoil in a way that is both patent and yet so subtle. It never feels contrived nor obvious, and we can always tell when he’s struggling emotionally, without ever feeling as though we can infiltrate his head. He lets you know something is wrong, but doesn’t let you in to find out exactly what that is.
Disorder works, primarily, from having such an unpredictable and completely undependable entry point that makes you question so much of what you’re witnessing. There’s a hugely vital sequence in the opening stages where Vincent is diagnosed with PTSD and we hear of the symptoms that co-exist with that, which sets the precedence for what’s to come. From there on, we channel his volatile vision and never know if what we’re seeing is genuinely happening, or all in his head. The elusive narrative helps inform this notion too, as we don’t find anything out about the Lebanese businessman or his seemingly shady associates – we’re as clueless and in the dark as our protagonists are.
The intensity of the narrative is enriched tremendously, by the pulsating, indelible soundtrack. It adds an incredible amount of suspense to scenes that could otherwise seem rather placid. You don’t want to leave your seat during the closing credits because you’re enjoying the score far too much. Plus, you want to find out the name of the composer (it’s Gesaffelstein, by the way).