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.
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
"Beau Travail" (1999) is directed by Claire Denis (Chocolat, White Material). The film is about the Legionnaire's life, and is mostly a series of images of the soldiers... Read morePublished 4 months ago by G. Edmonson
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 morePublished on June 12 2004 by Stephen G.
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 morePublished on April 16 2004 by Ned K. Wynn
and oodles simply oodles of body-odor!
TWO STARS and that only for the pounding disco [?] sequences. Read more
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 morePublished on April 25 2003 by An American in China
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... Read morePublished on April 23 2003 by 24fps
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 morePublished on Feb. 25 2003
Those reviewers who gave this film low ratings should stick to watching Braveheart and Sleepless in Seattle. Read morePublished on Feb. 10 2003 by RICH B
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 morePublished on Jan. 20 2003 by Patricio Duran