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1,682 Ratings

Beau travail

Directed by Claire Denis
France, 1999
Drama, LGBT+


Loosely based on Billy Budd, Sailor by Herman Melville, Beau travail focuses on an ex-Foreign Legion officer (Denis Lavant) as he recalls his once glorious life, leading troops in Africa.

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Beau travail Directed by Claire Denis
Its overwhelming mood is one not of overheated desire but of regret and loneliness, the sadness of someone who seems like an exile wherever he goes.
July 24, 2018
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The use of Britten on the soundtrack cuts deeper than just its ties to Melville. Britten was a homosexual at a time when homosexuality was a crime in the UK, and his opera implies a homoerotic strain to Claggart’s attempts to destroy Budd. Denis, that great modern master of the sensual, runs with that homoeroticism, exulting in the voluptuous physicality of her often-half-naked male subjects, whether standing still or in rigorous motion.
January 04, 2017
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At the center of this tightly wound fever dream is Sergeant Galoup (Denis Lavant), whose own unflappable façade begins to crack upon the arrival of a new legionnaire, whose inherent beauty and goodness marks him as an object of obsession. It’s here that the film’s stifling (yet eloquent) discipline begins to clash with deeply repressed desire, and Galoup sets events in motion that will that will bring about his own undoing.
March 02, 2012
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What are people saying?

  • El Biffo's rating of the film Beau travail

    Claire Denis is a brilliant stylist, and this film shows her style in fine form. The brilliant Denis Lavant (Holy Motors) stars. Do not dismiss this as another "gay film", it is a subtle and beautiful work that demands work from the viewer as well, as do most of Denis' films. I like that, I don't need everything explained to me 3 ways like they do in Hollywood.

  • Francisco R.'s rating of the film Beau travail

    Based on a Melville novel but Conradian in its storytelling, this mosaic of images, impresions and recollections of the growing boredom and animosity within a group of legionnaires conveys a quiet desperation that is perfectly achieved by the talented cast.

  • Samuel T.'s rating of the film Beau travail

    re-watched tonight, four years later. Words do not touch this film. In other words, there is nothing to say. Just breathe, experience. Hands down one of the best cinematic experiences ever. Maybe this sounds lazy, but this is one of the few times I've walked away from a film and there was simply no need to speak or describe. I am a ripe sponge, I am basking in a super juicy pleasure dome.

  • Duncan Gray's rating of the film Beau travail

    Claire Denis deserves her own adjective. How else to describe the tone of this film? You could call it dreamlike, except its style is too rooted in realism, just as it's far too dreamy to be realistic. Then it ends on a note that's completely tonally jarring yet inexplicably perfect. Some might say the camera's searching movement is like Malick if Malick were agnostic. And some might say that'd be an improvement.

  • kerfuffles's rating of the film Beau travail

    i had always heard this film had some serious homoerotic subtext to it, and it was just before a scene where Denis Lavant looks out at the rest of his troop in the middle of a splash fight that i thought "well, i don't see what's so gay about this." fine film. a fine, gay film.

  • Jake Cole's rating of the film Beau travail

    Denis poeticizes the potentially reductive. Through her lens, it is colonialism that seems tribal and primitive to watching natives, and sexual repression rather than inhibition that corrodes the mind. The hard flesh of soldiers becomes part of the landscape, eroding their humanity into yet more sand for the desert. Only when it's too late can one finally join in the dance. Play me off, Olga.

  • Kyle Lewis's rating of the film Beau travail

    Beautiful and hypnotic, Claire Denis confirms her status as one of the most important working filmmakers anywhere in the world. Denis Lavant delivers another stellar performance and Agnes Godard's cinematography glued me to every frame. Beau Travail rivals anything Malick as produced in terms of poetic cinema.

  • Greg S.'s rating of the film Beau travail

    I don't know if there is a filmmaker working today who has a better understanding of how powerful a juxtaposition of images in relation to one another can really be. Unfolding more like poetry than prose Denis never spells out which events are mundane and which are pivotal because everything is so unified and rhythmic. In short one of the finest marriages of form and content in recent years. Life changing.

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