“Ever since the one-two punch of his knuckle-smashing performances in Bullhead and Rust and Bone, Matthias Schoenaerts has become an in-demand import in Hollywood,” begins Benjamin Lee for the Guardian. “But despite high-profile roles in Far From the Madding Crowd, A Little Chaos and Suite Française, he’s largely been miscast as a soft romantic lead. In Disorder, he’s back on safer ground. Tortured physicality is his forte and in the role of a soldier struggling with PTSD, he’s comfortably commanding. He plays Vincent, whose inability to shake off experiences on the battlefield means that he’s temporarily off duty. He takes on a job, protecting the family of a Lebanese businessman: wife Jessie, played by Diane Kruger and her young son.”
“Originally, the film was called Maryland, after an estate in France where much of the action is set,” notes Ben Kenigsberg at RogerEbert.com. “Perhaps because Maryland would be a confusing title for a movie that has nothing to do with the American state, the producers have opted for an ultra-generic rebrand…. Disorder initially appears as though it might have something to say about war and its consequences, but brute force seems to weigh more heavily on its mind. After their car is attacked, Jessie and her son (Zaid Errougui-Demonsant) are put under the kind of only-in-the-movies police surveillance where the cops leave without warning. This forces Vincent to further spring into action. There are better home invasion movies, and certainly better classic westerns that use the same basic scenario.”
Disorder is “about the last step one might have expected [Alice] Winocour to take after debuting with 2012’s porcelain-textured costumer Augustine,” writes Variety‘s Guy Lodge. “It’s a sharp, slinky change of pace, however, given human backbone by Matthias Schoenaerts’s tightly wound performance… Given fewer notes to play than her redoubtable co-star, Kruger nonetheless registers in angularly elusive fashion as an intelligent woman suspended in a cosseted reality curated entirely by menfolk. Winocour doesn’t let this thriller escape without a wily degree of feminist subtext, though interjections of news footage concerning security threats to women in Islamic State territories draw the cultural parallels with slightly too heavy a hand.”
“Both leads are on great form,” agrees Jonathan Romney in Screen, “and the slow-burn approach to their relationship pays off beautifully as things get ever tighter in the drama’s final stretch. Textured sound design also takes us right into Vincent’s head, ramping up the tension no end.”
But the Hollywood Reporter‘s Todd McCarthy finds that Winocour “has endeavored to make a straight-ahead, home invasion thriller, only to inadvertently reveal that she still has a few things to learn if she intends to compete with Hollywood genre films on their own terms.”
“By placing the unhinged state of mind of Vincent in parallel with that of society in general (using simple suggestion), the director adopts a strategy of tension which is generally solid, but undoubtedly more predictable than she was hoping for,” suggests Fabien Lemercier at Cineuropa.
Update, 5/18: Sundance Selects has picked up US rights, reports Ryan Lattanzio at Thompson on Hollywood.
Update, 5/19: “The movie is nothing special,” writes Wesley Morris at Grantland, “but it’s tense, suspenseful, and vaguely topical. And the director Alice Winocour knows how to conduct a thrilling action sequence.”
Updates, 5/22: “Shot almost entirely from the first-person perspective of its hulking lead character, the film is a heightened lesson in eavesdropping,” writes Glenn Heath Jr. for the L. “Lines of dialogue fall in and out of range depending on Vincent’s position… Beyond the frame we are given deceptive audio cues that promise a reckoning. Eventually, it arrives in the form of a furious action setpiece inside a vast estate. Disorder ends with an ambiguously spiritual last shot, one drenched in regret and the delusion of what could have been.”
Jessica Kiang for the Playlist: “What is impressive is how well Winocour, who also wrote the script, establishes a gathering tension in Vincent, ably embodied by Schoenaerts, who supplies a moving, taciturn portrayal of a career soldier abandoned by the institution that defined him, and discovering that he cannot even rely on his own faculties not to betray him any more. So much so, that we start to believe that the chief danger to Jessie and Ali may in fact come from Vincent, in an act of overreaction to his escalating paranoia. But then the threat is suddenly externalized, and the film moves into its leaner, less impressionistic second half as Jessie, Ali and Vincent hole up in the mansion and prepare for a kind of siege.”
“Winocour creates several scenes of unnerving suspense, coiling the film’s tension stylishly and quietly,” writes Vanity Fair‘s Richard Lawson. “Schoenaerts is great at playing tough and haunted, and he cuts mesmerizing, almost menacing figure here. (And he ain’t bad to look at, I’ll tell you that.) He and Krueger share a nice, antagonistic chemistry, adding faint hints of sweetness to an otherwise coolly creepy movie.”
Update, 5/23: “Winocour’s filmmaking is appropriately forceful, all tight framings, sharp angles, and gripping set pieces,” writes Jordan Cronk for Reverse Shot. “An unapologetic genre film, Disorder ably fulfills all the tenets of a traditional thriller while managing to move in a number of unexpected, highly satisfying directions.”