Do you prefer certainty, or the unknown?
The Odeon’s admirable Screen Unseen concept is by definition a surprise. Although they do give some clues on Facebook and lots of clever cinephiles try to anticipate what the next Unseen movie might be.
So I toddled off to last night’s outing, fully expecting to see Hands of Stone, the story of boxer Roberto Duran, starring Robert de Niro as his legendary trainer, Ray Arcel.
The appearance of Disorder on the Censor’s certificate caused a ripple of unease amongst the audience, and within minutes quite a few had vacated their seats and were heading for the neon-lit exit door. Disappointed boxing fans, or perhaps sitting through a sub-titled French film on a cold Monday night was just too much effort?
Matthias Schoenaerts is Vincent, a muscular French army soldier suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Not knowing if he’ll be assigned to another mission, he’s persuaded to sign up for a private security job, a lavish party at the opulent estate of a shady Lebanese businessman.
For the first hour, the film is a taut thriller played out largely in Vincent’s head. Not helped by a cocktail of drugs, his mind and hearing are still on the battlefields, and he’s suffering from a paranoia that distorts his judgement. The soundtrack perfectly complements this mental mayhem.
Thereafter, it morphs into a fairly pedestrian – and confusing – home-invasion thriller. Vincent is asked to stay on after the party, to look after the businessman’s wife – Diane Kruger as Jessie, looking like a dead ringer for Grace Kelly – and son Ali.
Vincent suspects that the Lebanese husband is an arms dealer who also has dubious links with the recently elected French Interior Minister. His suspicions are confirmed when the husband is arrested on a trip to Switzerland, the police protection outside the estate disappears, and masked men invade the house.
The developing relationship between Vincent and Jessie is the glue that binds the plot together, but the movie is a whole doesn’t quite work. In my humble, non-cinephile opinion.
But Matthias Schoenaerts is an undoubted star, and carries the film as far as it can go. He was outstanding as one of Bathsheba Everdene’s suitors in the recent version of Far from the Madding Crowd, played a small but important part in The Danish Girl, and is undoubtedly destined for full-blown Hollywood stardom. Another famous Belgian for that favourite quiz question?
Disorder is being called Maryland for English-speaking audiences, and is released in the UK on 25th March.
I wonder what Hands of Stone will be like?