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BEAU TRAVAIL (Bilingual) [Import]

Denis Lavant , Michel Subor , Claire Denis    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 111.29
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Product Description

Amazon.ca

The movies of French director Claire Denis (I Can't Sleep, Trouble Every Day) are magical to some viewers and maddening to others because of the indirect way she tells her stories. Plot and character are revealed through what feel like inconsequential moments, while the important events seem to happen between the scenes. Beau Travail is more accessible than most, partly because of the simplicity of its plot (a jealous Foreign Legion sergeant ruins his own career when his beloved commander becomes fond of a young recruit) but mostly because of the vividness of its imagery, particularly sensuous shots of muscular men sweating in the sun or swimming in the ocean. It's unabashedly homoerotic, but it's also a compelling portrait of the basic emotional drives felt by men in extreme circumstances. --Bret Fetzer

Product Description

Inspired by Herman Melville's Billy Budd, Beau Travail is the most provocative and accomplished film yet by French director Claire Denis (Chocolat, I Can't Sleep, Nenette and Boni). Set against the stunning East African enclave of Djibouti, Beau Travail follows a troupe of men in a small French Foreign Legion outpost. Exercising their muscular torsos under the blaring sun, each day the Legionnaires engage in a hypnotically choreographed routine of drills, chores, and mock battles. Sergeant Galoup (Denis Lavant) seems the ideal Legionnaire: a brooding loner, cut off from his past. He runs the troupe like a well-oiled machine, until his jealously for a promising young recruit, Sentain, threatens the delicate balance of his life. With the haunting suspense of a Greek tragedy, Galoup's uncontrollable urge to destroy Sentain ultimately leads to his own downfall.


Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Brilliant Oct. 28 2002
Format:DVD
This is a beautiful film that trusts the audience to understand connections between the characters that are not explained in typical narrative and conversational scenes. Even though I would argue that Moby Dick is the Great American Novel, I felt that Melville's overwrought novella, Billy Budd, was so drearily overwritten that ultimately Melville's meagre psychogical insight evaporated from the overegged prose. This film does just the opposite: the scenes of the African landscape and the legionaires' bodies are not there for simple aesthetic enjoyment (although they are gorgeously rendered), but are expressionistic land- and body-scapes, the tableaux upon which the story is written. As such, it's a film that isn't about words (quite the opposite of Melville's dire verbosity in Billy Budd), but about a vocabulary of desire (that transcends, although it also reflects, such categories as colonialism and homosexuality). The film is Claire Denis' masterpiece to date, the best adaptation of any book I've seen, and has the most beautiful ending of any film I've seen. I'd keep on writing and gushing hyperbolic about the film, but I think you get the point; it's one of my favourites.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Inriguing but Snail Paced Movie Jan. 24 2004
By Westley
Format:DVD
Beau Travail is a modern-day update of Billy Budd, although the plot is much changed and the characters more ambiguous. Directed by French director Claire Denis (best known for 1988's "Chocolat"), Beau Travail stars Denis Lavant as a Foreign Legion officer in Africa. Lavant is the perfect officer, but he finds himself largely ignored by his commandant (Michel Subor), whom he greatly admires. His jealousy is piqued when he sees his commandant drawn to a new recruit, Sentain (played by Grégoire Colin).
The movie has some simple and beautiful scenery of barren Africa; accordingly it won several awards for its cinematography, including a Cesar (the equivalent of the French Oscar). The tone of the film is mesmerizingly aloof, with little dialogue and character development (most are nameless and credited simply as "legionnaire"). However, the movie is glacier paced, relying on repeated imagery and stark narration. There are also far too many scenes in which the camera lingers on the legionnaires training or ironing their clothes. Despite the languid pace, the movie is rarely boring, as it manages to maintain a sense of intrigue. In addition, the ending is amusingly peculiar and bewildering.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Elegant but Insubstantial Nov. 11 2003
Format:DVD
Introspective and subtle, Claire Denis' BEAU TRAVAIL offers a modern retelling of Herman Melville's BILLY BUDD, transposing the tale of an officer who self-destructs through his jealousy of a new recruit to an outpost of the French Foreign Legion. And although the film is elegant in both its simplicity and purity, I myself found it a shade too simple and pure to be completely effective.
Still, BEAU TRAVAIL has two things going for it: director Denis' cinematic eye and superior performances throughout. One truly senses the location in all its elemental nature, and the cinematography is remarkable for its restrained elegance. The cast follows suit, with direct and underplayed performances that fold seamlessly into both Denis' atmosphere and the story itself, and the result is often quite stylish.
But for all its elegance and style, I found BEAU TRAVAIL too introspective and subtle for its own good; to me it lacks any significant substance, with both story and characters slipping through my attention as easily as sand slips through my hand. While this is doubtlessly part of director Denis' intent, and while I have admired many a film with a notably elusive touch, my ultimate reaction to BEAU TRAVAIL is that it is a rather superficial exercise in style over substance, and I cannot say that it leads me to interest in the director's other work.
The DVD transfer is reasonable, if not entirely first rate, and there are few bonuses of any kind. In passing, I also note that BEAU TRAVAIL is often marketed as a film with homoerotic context and imagery, but I personally did not find it so. Final word: worth a look, but not greatly memorable for all that.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Majestic Long Shot April 23 2003
By 24fps
Format:DVD
Beay Travial (beautiful work) is Denis' best film yet. The story is of a Legionare Sergeant who is consumed by jealousy over a talented recruit, but, don't be fooled, the execution is anything but conventional. The story is told through the sergeants thoughts via voice overs. We see him bored, tired, without any conviction or ambition, then we cut to scenes of him working with his soldiers in the desert carefully watching Sentien.
The gorgeous shots of the Legionaires training are unforgetable. Denis' employs long shots in vast barren lanscapes surrounded by water. There are fantasy sequences in the film particularly the opening one where the Legionaires stand stationary with their arms raised in the air,in the middle of the desert, and in the back we hear a fantastic modern opera. Denis has a special talent for choreographing actors positions, pay attention to the formations the actors stand in. Even the training sequences almost look like performance art.
I highly recomend this film and any other Denis film, IMO she is the best working in france right now. Also check out 'The Wind Will Carry Us' by Abbas Kiarostami and Iranian master. Ciao
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Talk about a woman who loves to focus on the male body
Even though I've seen quite a few French films this seems to be one of better ones. Is this movie slow pace?, yes but it's done for a reason. Read more
Published on June 23 2007 by Jenny J.J.I.
1.0 out of 5 stars Box cover is the most intriguing part...
Do you ever catch yourself watching a movie that hasn't been worth your time, but stick to it through the end 'just in case' and thinking to yourself.... Read more
Published on June 12 2004 by Stephen G.
1.0 out of 5 stars See this before you buy it
Beau Travail is Claire Denis's reductionist take on Melville's tragic tale of Billy Budd. While Melville gives us all we need to understand the plight of the beautiful and tragic... Read more
Published on April 16 2004 by Ned K. Wynn
2.0 out of 5 stars AH, SWEAT MYSTERY OF LIFE....... [!]
and oodles simply oodles of body-odor!
TWO STARS and that only for the pounding disco [?] sequences. Read more
Published on Nov. 16 2003
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Movie -- Terrible DVD
I saw *Beau Travail* at the theatres and thought it was excellent. And purchasing the DVD, I still think it's an incredibly good film. Read more
Published on April 25 2003 by D. Bonner
1.0 out of 5 stars Profound -profoundly bad!
The only thing I enjoyed about this movie is the laugh I got out of reading the good reviews. It reminds me of a scene from the play "Art". Read more
Published on Feb. 25 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars not for idiots
Those reviewers who gave this film low ratings should stick to watching Braveheart and Sleepless in Seattle. Read more
Published on Feb. 10 2003 by RICH B
5.0 out of 5 stars Different? Yes. Way under-rated at 3 stars? Yes, yes, yes!
This film moves me. It IS different from so many other movies ( that, in all fairness, are striving to send a message far different from "Beau Travail"). Read more
Published on Jan. 20 2003 by Patricio Duran
2.0 out of 5 stars Beau Travail is bogus
French movie directors never feel compelled to follow a narrative arc. In this movie, there's no coherent narrative at all. Read more
Published on Dec 23 2002 by David Robinson
1.0 out of 5 stars PEANUTBUTTER SANDWICH, ANYONE??
This is definitely not a take off on Herman Melville's "Billy Bud" and I cannot for the life of me see any resemblance at all. Read more
Published on Nov. 16 2002 by "yaaah69"
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