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2,307 Ratings

Beau travail

Directed by Claire Denis
France, 1999
Drama, LGBTQ+


Loosely based on Herman Melville’s Billy Budd, and set against Djibouti’s sun-drenched desert and coast, Beau travail focuses on a French Foreign Legion outpost, run under the strict discipline of sergeant Galoup. The arrival of new recruit Sentain awakens a burning jealousy within Galoup.

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Beau travail Directed by Claire Denis
Back in Marseille, gun in hand, his pulse is visible in the vein of his bicep as the house beat of Corona’s ‘Rhythm of the Night’ (1993) fades in on the soundtrack. Superlative pronouncements about the history of cinema are fatuous, but I’ll risk one nonetheless: what follows these desolate shots of Galoup, supine and suicidal, is perhaps the best ending of any film, ever.
January 08, 2019
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This is not a film about narrative, but about image, sound and rhythm, the way in which they create understanding beyond storytelling. Dread, desire, peace, pain, confusion and antipathy are all present in the film. Often it is hard to place exactly why such feelings engulf the viewer as a result of what they see and hear, but the feelings are disarming nevertheless.
February 13, 2007
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Part of what fascinates me so much is how unmistakably it qualifies as a film directed and cowritten by a woman, even though it doesn’t conform to any platitudes about women filmmakers’ films. For instance, I can’t for the life of me think of another film by a woman that reminds me of Eisenstein. Beau travail evokes him not only in encounters between sculptural bodies and heroic music, but in its musically inflected montages and its beautifully ordered compositions devoted to various maneuvers.
May 26, 2000
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