Publication: Survival: Global Politics and Strategy December 2017–January 2018
20 November 2017
Counter-terrorism and Intelligence
Alice Winocour, director. Alice Winocour and Jean-Stéphane Bron, screenwriters. Distributed by Mars Distribution, 2015.
Disorder, directed by Alice Winocour, artfully imparts some unsettling insights about a world in which transnational terrorism has become a pervasive worry and war a persistently looming prospect. The fine Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts plays Vincent, a French soldier afflicted with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – hence the punning title – from having served in the Afghanistan conflict. The problem of battlefield mental disturbance has been thoughtfully plumbed in a number of recent dramatic movies, such as Neither Heaven Nor Earth (France) and A War (Denmark), and in documentaries such as Armadillo (Denmark) and Restropo (United States). Disorder adds a degree of subtlety in portraying the afflicted soldier as a willing and often functional combatant even when removed from the battlefield. While waiting to see if he will be cleared to return to combat, Vincent takes a job guarding the family of a shady French businessman who may or may not be dealing arms to a Lebanese militia. The setting is an opulent villa on the French Riviera. When the property comes under threat from armed bad guys, the story illustrates the insidious reach of terrorism: locales once thought to be insulated from violence become symbolic targets. In that sense, the movie – which competed in the ‘Un Certain Regard’ section of the Cannes Film Festival in 2015 – anticipated the horrific July 2016 attack in nearby Nice, in which a jihadist-inspired terrorist killed 86 people and hurt another 434 by mowing them down with a cargo truck.