Movie Review: DISORDER (MARYLAND) (France/Belgium 2015) ****

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disorder.jpgDISORDER (MARYLAND) (France/Belgium 2015) ****
Directed by Alice Winocour

Starring: Matthias Schoenaerts, Diane Kruger, Paul Hamy

Review by Gilber Seah

DISORDER is as the film title implies, a psychological thriller/drama. It traces an Afghanistan veteran transgression into deep paranoia and how he deals with it.

When the film opens, Vincent (Matthias Schoenaerts) is having a medical examination. He is apparently tested in his hearing and later told that the results will be made known to him as to whether he can return to active military duty. In the meantime, Vincent lands a job as security at a huge mansion estate called Maryland (the film’s original title). The camera then follows him around when he patrols the estate doing his duties as he checks certain guests, some rude, some not, as he fulfills his duties. In the process, he overhears a private conversation of the owner of an arms deal gone sour. Director Winocour shows how stressful a security job can be, and even more so with his hearing problems as he has to wear an ear piece for communication. Winocour keeps the audience on their toes. Is something going to happen? Is Vincent going to break down? At the same time, the film hovers towards being a thriller, a suspensor, a drama and an action film. This is the reason Winocour’s film works so well. Her film is always several steps ahead of her audience. The reason she does certain things is clear later. For example, Vincent undergoes a lot of repetitive annoyances – like loud sounds and blurred images, but these repetitions are necessary to explain the deterioration of Vincent’s mental health.

The psychological thriller is centred on Vincent, who has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He is later hired by the rich client, Whalid (Percy Kemp) as security and driver for the wife (Diane Kruger) and son while he is away. Vincent speeds the car up almost running into an accident when he thinks the car is being followed. The wife freaks out but finds out later that Vincent was right. A home invasion reveals the reason being due to the husband’s arms deal gone sour. The film then switches to action. Winocour handles the fight and action scenes with efficient finesse. The temptation to include some romance between the wife and Vincent is thankfully avoided.

Matthias Schoenaerts looks and acts his part convincingly. His chiselled tattooed body complements his brooding nature. He has proven himself apt in diversified roles as a troubled soul (this film and RUST AND BONE) or as a sound and dependable one as in FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD.

The film’s sound editing and effects (pounding and techno sounds) are excellent, emphasizing the imminent danger of each situation.

The imaginary ending (not revealed in this review) is subtly conceived to bring a conclusion to the movie as to the final state of Vincent’s mental state.

DISORDER reminds one immediately of classic murder films such as those directed by Claude Chabrol in the 60’s and 70’s. DISORDER is not a whodunit thriller, and is absorbing from start to finish. Winocour has proven herself a capable director and a talent to be reckoned with.

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