Beau Travail

Feature Film | FR 1999 | 92’ | French OV with German subs

At the beginning of her sixth feature film, the emaciated voices of a male choir sing the praise of the legendary Foreign Legion. Under the baton of Claire Denis, it is clear that this can only be a swan song, and that the next 90 minutes will reveal how profoundly empty the pathos in it is. One look at the hardened, disenchanted face of Sergeant Galoup (Denis Lavant in an intense performance) is all it takes to know that the heroic courage, the colonial trappings, the proud bond between men touted in song can hardly be more than perfunctory assertions. Supported by Bernardo Montet’s choreography, Denis stages the Legion’s boot camp routines as hyper-masculine, free-wheeling dance theater. Try as he might, even Galoup cannot ignore its homoerotic aspects – notably, young recruit Sentain (Grégoire Colin) leaves cracks in his callous soldier’s soul. Confined within the rigid corset of military identi-ty formation, though, he cannot allow his desires to be sidetracked by this irritation. Disaster soon looms instead.

Director
Claire Denis
Cast
Denis Lavant, Michel Subor, Grégoire Colin, Nicolas Duvauchelle
Script
Claire Denis, Jean-Pol Fargeau
Producer
Patrick Grandperret
Photography
Agnès Godard
Editor
Nelly Quettier
Sound
Jean-Paul Mugel
Music
Charles Henri de Pierrefeu
Production Design
Arnaud de Moleron
Costumes
Judy Shrewsbury
Casting
Nicolas Lublin

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Germany

Selected filmography Claire Denis

CHOCOLAT (1988), NÉNETTE ET BONI (1996), TROUBLE EVERY DAY (2001), THE INTRUDER (2004), 35 SHOTS OF RUM (2008), WHITE MATERIAL (2009), LES SALAUDS (2013)