Vincent Loreau (Matthias Schoenaerts) was a soldier in the war in Afghanistan and has been suffering mentally ever since he returned to France thanks to post-traumatic stress disorder. He has been though some medical check-ups and the doctor cannot find anything seriously physically wrong with him, so the issues must be in his head, and that is preventing him going back into the services in spite of him feeling he is well able to. In the meantime, while his records are being assessed he finds a job as many of his fellow military men do as a security guard, assigned to look after a huge mansion house which is the home to a wealthy arms dealer and his family. But is he more of a hindrance than a help?
Disorder, or Maryland as it was originally called (referring to the mansion's name), was penned especially for star Matthias Schoenaerts by his director here, Alice Winocour, who after meeting with some who had been through a modern day war situation was keen to depict a character who was suffering for his experiences in combat. Her instinct proved correct as he was a perfect choice at not simply showing the reliance on physicality such a man would have, but also his simmering mental problems which have left him in a state of paranoia, expecting to be attacked at any moment as he was back in the conflict zones in the Middle East where he had been stationed. Will he eventually snap?
That was the pressing question as we watched Vincent go about his days and nights, trying to work out whether he was a danger to anyone who might try and hurt the weapons trader's family, or in fact a danger to the family itself. Obviously nobody has a security guard without good reason, so you imagine Vincent had a good motive for being there, but this did bring up interesting queries about what you do when the people you have hired to protect you have, by your machinations to put them in peril, become psychologically unhinged, which appeared to happen to far too many of the soldiers around the wars of the world. Thus we fear for the dealer's wife Jessie (Diane Kruger) and his young son Ali (Zaïd Errougui-Demonsant).
Notably when by keeping an eye on those two Vincent may be getting off on his position of power, however limited that may be, and in particular obsessing over Jessie who we can perceive he views as a potential damsel in distress to be rescued by his image of himself as a knight in shining armour. Even when there was very little happening, Schoenaerts managed to whip up a hefty degree of suspense that at the point the shock moments arrived they did little to dispel the tension since they had only confirmed there was a genuine threat and that it was not going away any time soon. There were bursts of action here, but you couldn't in all honesty describe Disorder as an action flick; then again you could stretch a definition to take in the thriller genre, as Winocour assuredly included aspects of that.
Take the sequence where Jessie and Ali want to go to the beach for the day. Vincent isn't keen on the idea, but he has to follow orders being a good soldier and all, which leads almost immediately on the drive over there to him becoming convinced they are being followed by another car of possible terrorists and he puts his foot down on the accelerator to place the mother and son in yet more peril as he careers through oncoming traffic while she demands to know what he is doing and could he stop the car right now? There was a pay-off to this section which coloured the rest of the plot, but perhaps the finest part of the whole thing was the lengthy sequence at a posh party at the mansion where Vincent patrols the rich partygoers and becomes convinced that something terrible is about to happen, as you imagine a security guard has to be to keep on his toes, yet you can well understand why Jessie is noticeably nervous around him, he is a man of violence after all and that can set non-violent people on edge, even if they are going to protect them. Maybe finally this was a shade to conventional in its wrapping up, but a note of ambiguity haunts the mind. Fine electro-score by Gesaffeltstein.
[There's a Q&A with the star and director on the Soda Blu-ray, as well as the director's short films.]