Vincent is an ex-soldier with PTSD who is hired to protect the wife and child of a wealthy Lebanese businessman while he's out of town. Despite the apparent tranquility in Maryland, Vincent perceives an external threat.
Put in charge of his young son, Alain leaves Belgium for Antibes to live with his sister and her husband as a family. Alain's bond with Stephanie, a killer whale trainer, grows deeper after Stephanie suffers a horrible accident.
During the early years of Nazi occupation of France in World War II, romance blooms between Lucile Angellier (Michelle Williams), a French villager, and Bruno von Falk (Matthias Schoenaerts), a German soldier.
Kristin Scott Thomas,
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
Winocour directs beautifully, Schoenaerts acts and acts, and only the writing pulls this down
Alice Winocour's thriller set in upper class France is filled with anxiety, and is filmed very smartly to increase that stress without resorting to pyrotechnics. Quietly, especially because of the edgy psychological performance by Matthias Schoenaerts, we feel the anxiety of an ex-soldier fighting PTSD and still doing private high brow security work.
The setting is interesting but the plot is thin. This can work for the film, which depends on lots of quiet moments to punch up the drama when it occurs. The direction is really good, with some simple strategies at play. Examplewhen our main character, who is guarding someone off in the distance, is sensing danger, his eyes flit around, he stiffens up and walks and look, but the one thing the camera doesn't do is show us the person he's protecting. In the dark, we worry, and we don't know if the danger is real or if he's just too high strung.
Seeing the inside of a high level security detail is nice, and it's handled with good realism. The whole movie, in fact, depends on a simple believability that typical Hollywood versions would ramp up, and it works.
The big downside here is the writing. There isn't enough to the overall plot after all (and Schoenaerts can't do everything). And some of the dialog is unlikely or a big out off kilter. Sucked into the mis-en-scene, you can go with it, at least until the long stretch at the end in the house, when you do wish it hadn't trapped itself into a series of well worn ideas.
The last several seconds of the movie do show that the director/writer is capable of more than you'll find here. It might be unexplained, but it leaves at least still immersed as you leave the film's finely rendered world.
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