Disorder’s protagonist is involved in a war—but it’s one that’s going on mostly in his head. Vincent (Matthias Schoenaerts, Rust and Bone) is on leave from the military for PTSD. Despite what his doctor tells him, he’s convinced he’ll be leaving on another tour soon. In the meantime, though, he takes a security job watching over the guests of a high-profile party at a lavish Lebanese businessman’s home.
The next morning, a buddy who also worked the party tells Vincent that the host is looking for someone to look after his wife, Jessie (Diane Kruger), and son while he goes on a short business trip. So Vincent stays on—partly out of boredom, partly for the money, and partly because he’s a little taken with the elegant blond missus. Who cares if he’s paranoid? After all, it’s not paranoia if they’re really out to get you.
Director and co-writer Alice Winocour has fashioned a thriller that’s efficient but largely unimaginative, which is surprising considering that her previous writing credit was Mustang, arguably last year’s best foreign-language film. (Her collaborator here is Jean-Stéphane Bron.) It’s not long before the wife and kid are followed and attacked—while with Vincent—and the reason isn’t terribly compelling. Nor is what the thugs are after, actually. Sure, your pulse quickens a little when the bad men show up. But the fact that the young son never even cries is telling.
Besides the serviceable acting by Kruger and Schoenaerts, the best aspect of Disorder is the sound. From the tinnitus that rings Vincent’s ears to the Hans Zimmer-by-way-of-Hitchcock score, what you hear is often more exciting than what you see. Streamlining a film to cut out the fluff can be a great thing; editing it till its bones show, however, is obviously less than ideal. The final scene is, admittedly, a bit shiver-inducing, suggesting that Winocour’s instincts were at least in the right place. But if the last 30 seconds of a movie is all that your audience remembers, perhaps next time you should be a bit more paranoid about whether what you’re committing to screen is truly worthwhile.
Disorder opens today at the Angelika Pop-Up.