Alice Winocour Discusses 'Disorder' and Not Wanting to Be Labelled as a Female Filmmaker
Her second feature film delves into a fraught psychological thrill ride, accompanied by a tense Gesaffelstein score.
Known for her work as a co-writer on the highly acclaimed 2015 film, Mustang, Alice Winocour recently caught up with Dazed to talk about her second feature film, Disorder. The forthcoming feature follows the story of Vincent (Matthias Schoenaerts), a PTSD-ridden ex-soldier hired as security detail for Jessie (Diane Kruger), the wife of a wealthy Lebanese businessman, at their opulent Maryland villa. Developing a fierce fascination for his mark, Vincent becomes increasingly paranoid as he senses a hidden danger that is questionable as a real or imagined threat. Accompanied by a tense score composed by French techno artist Gesaffelstein, the viewer is taken on a fraught journey through the eyes of a deeply disturbed man. Following the film’s world premier at Cannes 2015, Dazed sat down with Winocour to discuss the creation of a vivid filmic atmosphere, psychological trauma, and why she doesn’t want to be pigeonholed into the female filmmaker category. You can read an excerpt from the conversation below and can head over to Dazed to read the full article. You can watch the intense Discorder trailer above.
Your previous film, Augustine, focuses on a female character trying to overcome a psychological trauma. In Disorder, you created a male character who is trying to overcome a differently-labelled, but in many respects similar, psychological trauma. What inspired this film?
I’m interested in the work of war photographers. They were telling me about the difficulty of coming back to the real world after being in the warzone and I was very impressed with their struggle. I also met some of the soldiers coming back from Afghanistan and they told me about their outburst of violence, their anxiety, all these physical things. I had an email correspondence with one of them for two years. And he was telling me intimate stories, how he can’t look at children in the same way because he saw children killing people with stones, he saw the violence of kids. It’s a violent world with different rules.
So coming back is very difficult for them because in their head they are still over there. And after having seen friends dying and all those atrocities, you are not human anymore, you’re closer to animals. So this is how the character of Vincent was born and that’s why I’m showing Vincent with the dog. I wanted to tell the story of a soldier who was recovering after being in the war zone.
Your camera is “looking” at the male character in a very probing way. How did gender impact on your narrative and visual strategies?
I wanted to film Matthias Schoenaerts in a way to arouse desire, the same way men have been doing with women traditionally. But I hope I did more than that, not just film him as an object of desire but as a character with his complexity. Also I thought it was important to show that a woman can direct any type of film, a genre film or horror movies, there are no boundaries for women now.
Talking of women filmmakers, it is obviously very important to highlight their work but I also think we shouldn’t refer to them separately, we should not create this “segregation”. What are your thoughts on that?
Of course, I couldn’t agree more. I was asked in an interview yesterday if I have any questions to ask a director. I said I would ask Kathryn Bigelow how she’s answering the questions concerning her cinema and the label of “female movies”. I hope my movie will be seen outside this prism, it’s boring to be in a category. We never ask a man, “What do you think about men movies?” This category doesn’t even make sense, what is a man movie, what is a women’s movie?
I don’t understand why it is so strange for a woman to direct an action movie because women are as violent as men and they are also very interested in thrillers. But if people are asking those questions, it means there is a lot of work to be done. I think there should be no boundaries now for women. Also on the set I don’t want to act as a man just because I direct an action film. I’m actually very proud of my femininity, I like to be a woman but I would also like to be able to direct the films I want to direct. Not just “intimacy” films or “family” films.