Ultimately the plot appears to be fairly simple but with the clever use of camera work and sound effects it’s evident that the film is building up to a mysterious climax where nobody is quite sure what to expect…
In the opening scenes we are introduced to Vincent (Matthias Schoenarts) who plays an ex-Special Forces soldier suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). After a psychiatric evaluation whereby Vincent isn’t entirely truthful about the severity of his symptoms and the amount of medication he is taking, the character’s future in the army looks doubtful which leads him to take a job as security guard. On arrival at the elaborate Maryland estate, we are introduced to wealthy Lebanese businessman Imad Whalid (Percy Kemp), his wife Jessie (Diane Kruger) and their son Ali.
The family have a large security entourage and an affluent lifestyle but it isn’t clear to the staff nor the audience what Whalid actually does. Whilst working at a glamorous party hosted by the family Vincent overhears a heated negotiation between his employer and some powerful (dodgy) looking men in business suits, and it soon becomes apparent that he is involved in some kind of illegal enterprise. Whilst her husband is away on business, Vincent is appointed as Jessie and her son’s personal bodyguard and this is where the story begins to gain momentum.
Whilst looking after the family, Vincent becomes suspicious that the family are being targeted, and this becomes an interesting predicament for the audience as we led to question whether this suspicion is down to the paranoia of his PTSD. Throughout the director’s brilliant use of music and POV shots, we are given a glimpse into the life of a person suffering from PTSD. Sound effects are used to emphasise Vincent’s hallucinations and feelings of detachment from the surrounding world making it impossible for the audience to sustain an objective view of the plot, as we ask whether this ‘suspected threat’ is all just in Vincent’s head?
The film is beautifully shot with a mixture of long intense close ups and point of view shots that give both an insight into the psychology of Vincent’s PTSD and his growing fondness for Jessie. Matthias Schoenarts is the masterful as the mysterious, brooding tough guy who despite being very insular, can give a look that speaks a thousand words. The lack of dialogue throughout the movie only adds to the mystery and tension that is prevalent throughout the film and director Winocour makes the audience do a lot of guess work throughout the movie, leaving some gaps in the story that are open to interpretation.
The predominantly mute intensity between Vincent and Jessie adds a dynamic ‘will they won’t they’ subplot to the film, with countless meaningful stares. The mystery of the narrative is at times frustrating, but the experimental style often compensates for the lack of narrative and plot.
Alice Winocour’s greatest achievement with Disorder is the sophisticated use of sound and camera work to emphasise the feeling and emotion throughout. This director definitely has a promising future!
Book tickets for the next screening of Disorder at FACT.