Sunday, 10 April 2016

Disorder review

Last week I attended a last minute premiere for Disorder, starring man-of-the-moment Matthias Schoenaerts - and it was a really great experience! Hit the jump for the lowdown on this paranoid thriller....

Disorder (formerly titled Maryland) is a film that has eluded me up until very recently. Strange, given that Schoenaerts has been one of my favorite actors for quite a few years now. I think the first film I saw him in was Rust and Bone... a fairly typical role for the 'French Ryan Gosling' as I think I would term him. In any case, Hollywood has (fairly recently) brought him in for some bigger films, a la 'the Drop'. Not quite a mistake, I don't think, but a bit of a misstep nonetheless. Where he has always worked magic is in the portrayal of the 'lovable thug' in smaller, more niche, pictures. And here he gets a chance to showcase that side once more. Mere weeks after the powerhouse of 'A Bigger Splash', with it's light blues and pastel yellows we have 'Disorder', a darker palette of moody purples and dark blues.
A good old party

It's being described as a sort of 'paranoid thriller' - and I think that's about right. It's certainly an arthouse action - which some of you will know is my favorite genre. Of course, this is only if it's done well. Luckily, in the case of Disorder, it's done very well indeed.

We begin with a reverse tracking shot (that is, a tracking shot from the front rather than from behind), techno music escalating in volume and intensity as Schoenaerts stares into the lens. So this is a PTSD film then I guess.... Before long, the jigsaw pieces are clear: Vincent has been chucked from the army for health reasons and is heading for a basic security job with, one must assume, some army pals on leave. That basic security job takes up a sizable 20 minutes/ half an hour of the runtime. It's a
gloriously filmed, sumptuously lit high-class party. All tuxuedos and big names; but without much
joy. The techno soundtrack keeps us as the audience entertained (including a full play of the not so subtle 212 by Azealia Banks). All the while, the camera darts to various cctv devices, and the microphones focus on any suspicious sounding noises. Winocour is making it very clear that Vincent is an incredibly paranoid man. All the better for us then - having to figure out what's real and what's merely a figment of Vincent's overreacting mind.

Oh dear

Just as I was beginning to think that the party was going to take up the whole film, it starts pouring with rain and the night is over. Vincent is roped into staying with the billionaire arms dealers wife and child whilst he's away to keep them safe. It's no spoiler to say, however, that his condition goes downhill. Very downhill. Figuring out what's real and what's not is part of the fun - but one online commentator mentioned 'look at the bodies'. I didn't notice anything, but perhaps there's a really interesting feature of the movie to take a look at. Vincent takes the family to the beach - where he's clearly overreacting to anything. But then, inevitably, he's right; and there's a sort of attempted

Here's where the movie begins to descend into traditional arthouse action style. Vincent and co. retreat to the huge mansion (Maryland, in case you were wondering), and meet up with one of the security guards from a couple of days before. Keep your eyes on the shadows and you'll see some interesting things. I was never sure whether to believe if they were real or a visualisation of Vincent's thinking, but it's hands-over-eyes suspenseful stuff. As you've probably worked out by now, the plot takes a hard left into home invasion thriller. But it's done well - so I see nothing really to complain about. A violent, pumping, and disturbing final act ensues that lives up to the foreplay so to speak, and just muddies the waters even further as to what's imagined and what's fake.
Erm.... Fashion?

So Disorder is a very good film I suppose. It's an intelligent, nervy thriller that acknowledges that pulp entertainment is what pulls it through. It's able to use some excellent arthouse camerawork and lighting to elevate itself above its premise as well - which is always a sure fire sign of a good filmmaker. The scintillating electronic score should keep its audience on their toes.

What's wrong with it? Hmm.... A lot of it felt, well, a little..... been there done that blandness. I do worry that we're just over a century from The Birth of a nation and already we've somehow made every type of film imaginable... But that's a matter for another time. Disorder may be a good film, but it doesn't add anything to anything. The PTSD twist is a unique touch... But just not quite unique enough to propel the film forward. And the skill of the film, although fantastic, isn't a requisite for 5 stars. At other times, I felt the actual thriller plot to be slightly stale, but the rise of the far right in France and the refugee crisis as topical plot points kept the story consistently engaging.

All in all, I would highly recommend you go and see disorder if you're a fan of the genre. Missing Nicholas Winding Refn? You'll find him here.

Disorder gets 4 stars!

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