Disorder, the new film starring Diane Kruger and Matthias Schoenaerts from writer-director Alice Winocour, screened in New York Tuesday evening to an appreciative crowd of fellow actors and friends of Winocour and Kruger — including Kruger’s designer pal Prabal Gurung, who has outfitted her for many a premiere. (Tonight, though, she opted for a floating Alexander McQueen dress.)
Though originally filmed in French, not much is lost in translation for American audiences. That’s because the film largely doesn’t play out in French, or in its subtitles, or in Kruger’s brief forays into English — rather, it unfolds in silence and long glances between its two stars, with footsteps in the dark, and by quiet surveillance.
In the film, Kruger plays Jessie, the wife of a Lebanese arms dealer who suddenly takes off from their villa in the south of France to deal with urgent business in Switzerland. In comes Vincent (Schoenaerts), a veteran of an unnamed combat zone tasked with protecting Jessie and her son in her husband’s absence. It’s easy money for Vincent, who still hopes for re-deployment in the army, despite what soon becomes clear is post-traumatic stress disorder.
Something is amiss: Vincent thinks he sees strangers watching Jessie, and he takes mother and son on a wild drive while attempting to shake off a car he believes is tailing them. But Vincent’s apparent paranoia turns out to have real foundations — masked men attempt to abduct Jessie and her son from the back seat of their car on a quick beach jaunt, and things quickly grow tenser from there.
Still, Disorder — or Maryland, if you prefer the French title — is less Taken and more Rear Window, a taut, cerebral slow burn that, as Winocour described it during the premiere, is more about “traumatized bodies” than psychological elements.
“She really takes time to install this reigning paranoia," Kruger said of Winocour. "There's so much spoken in this movie without words, in terms of conveying a sense of dread."
Though Kruger’s character first appears in the film at a party hosted by her older husband for his wealthy friends and business partners, she’s far from simply a trophy wife.
“She had lost herself in a superficial life,” Winocour explained. “I wanted this character to be touching in a way that she’s really in a golden prison and she doesn’t know how to escape from it.”
“It’s part of why I said yes,” Kruger said. “I’m also not sure I would have wanted to play a trophy wife if a man was the director, because I feel like it would have been too much on the surface.”
Despite the tense emotional undercurrents of the film — there is also the B story of Jessie and Vincent's simmering chemistry — the evening of the premiere was decidedly cheerier. Kruger occasionally punctuated our conversation with greetings directed at myriad friends; when Gurung strolled in, he congratulated her with a kiss on the cheek. Before the screening, Winocour and Kruger took the stage to introduce the film; Winocour recalled her first New York screening, when just one person showed up to see her short at the Brooklyn Film Festival — and it was a family friend.
“I hope that tonight you are not my mother’s friends,” she said with a laugh.
“They’re my friends,” Kruger responded. (She wasn’t entirely wrong.)
After the screening, the director, her star, and all of their friends migrated to the rooftop bar at Jimmy at the James Hotel, hosted by the Cinema Society and Chopard.
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