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Vincent Loreau (Matthias Schoenaerts), a French Special Forces soldier just back from Afghanistan, is suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He is hired to ensure the safety of Jessie, the wife of a wealthy Lebanese businessman in his "Maryland" property in the South of France. While he feels a strange fascination for the woman he must protect, Vincent is prone to anxiety and hallucinations. Despite the apparent tranquility on "Maryland", Vincent perceives an external threat...Written by
Disorder seduces you into a hypnotic suspense thriller that occasionally succumbs to stagnancy.
French cinema has come a long way and is close to overtaking Asian cinema as my favourite world cinema. This has all the right ingredients for the type of thriller I personally enjoy the most. Suspense? Plenty. Intense? Sure. Psychologically stimulating? Ehhh. This was an intriguing concoction to mix PTSD psychology with a home invasion flick. It's just a shame the former wasn't explored to its maximum potential. Don't get me wrong, the utilisation of hallucinogenic imagery and delusional paranoia is well executed. In fact, it's what powers the narrative. The story itself is completely forgettable, bland and undeveloped. However, the attention to our protagonist is what truly captivates. Matthias Schoenaerts was the perfect casting choice for Vincent. His brute physicality and cold exterior unleashes plenty of inner torment for the character. You can tell through Schoenaerts' facial expressions that our character is brimming with determination and conflict. A superbly strong performance. Diane Kruger was also good and definitely held her own. The cinematography was incredibly seductive. The usage of slow motion, dark shadows and shades of purple really enhanced the experience. The contemporary sound design also highlighted the scenes of PTSD, which I appreciate. Alice Winocour's direction felt fresh, in particular the "over-the-shoulder" camera shots where we see what Vincent might (or might not...) be seeing. Including such intimacy really draws you into the narrative, especially the dialogue is minimal. It's a piece of visual storytelling, which in turn makes the plot less intricate and ambiguous. Whilst it does not necessarily work constantly, I was entranced by this and really enjoyed it. Some more attention to the story would've made it that much better, but it's worth a watch.
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