Ambiguous endings to films can be extremely frustrating. Having followed a story on its journey from start to finish, you feel you deserve completion, a tying up of all the loose ends.
But the title of this film is well chosen because there is no order here, just paranoia, a mounting sense of tension, an unease that is palpable and a finale that will have you changing your mind about its meaning.
Having returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan, soldier Vincent (a really impressive Matthias Schoenaerts) is diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He has trouble sleeping, suffers from tinnitus and is being considered for early retirement. While he awaits his fate, a colleague gets him a job as a security guard working at the lavish country compound of a Lebanese businessman. But Vincent is not sure all is as it should be. He suspects illegal arms deals may be going on and when the husband leaves on a business trip, Vincent stays on at the compound to guard the wife, Jessie (Diane Kruger) and her young son.
On the surface, things seem normal enough but Vincent is convinced the house is being watched. Are his nerves getting the better of him? Is he losing his mind? Or could it be that everyone else is complacent whereas combat-hardened Vincent’s senses are so well-honed, he’s one step ahead of the rest.
It’s on an innocent trip to the beach when things come to a head in a really shocking way and suddenly Vincent is back on the frontline fighting his very own battle.
Director Alice Winocour doesn’t use tricksy or flashy devices to ratchet up the tension here, although there is a really good use of sound; it is Schoenaerts ability to convey wariness and hyper-alertness that keeps the audience on the edge of its seat.
Just when you’ve convinced yourself it is all in Vincent’s head something happens that jolts you straight into a sense of panic and defensiveness.
In fact, the movie continues to wrong-foot viewers right up to the inconclusive finale and whatever you decide has really happened (or not) it makes for gripping movie-making. One that will give you plenty to discuss after you leave the cinema.
For those who don’t like subtitles, one of the great beauties of the film is how much of it has no dialogue whatsoever – you know what is going on simply by watching Vincent’s actions and full marks to Schoenaerts who gives a sensitive, complex portrayal of a man haunted by mental demons. He is never hysterical or overly dramatic, yet still manages to convey the very troubled nature of Vincent’s psyche.