Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
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 Africa... more »
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A Soldier Is Cut Adrift
zapasnik | New York, New York United States | 10/28/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Beau Travail" had its US premiere at the New York Film Festival of 1999, followed by a limited release in select cities. "Select" is the keyword here, as "Beau Travail" is clearly a film for a specialized audience - dialogue is minimal, and events are indicated rather than dramatized. But for those willing to take the cinematic leap, Claire Denis has created a film that is breathtakingly visual and unique.Instead of doing a literal adaptation of Herman Melville's "Billy Budd," Denis uses it as a starting point. "Beau Travail" is a memory piece that takes on the hypnotic quality of a fever dream; Sergeant Galoup (Denis Lavant), banished from the Foreign Legion and living in present-day Marseilles, looks back on his Legionaire days and the episode that brought about his downfall - his jealousy and persecution of the virtuous, self-sacrificing Sentain (Gregoire Colin). Stationed in the northeast African nation of Djibouti, a remote area of blue skies, blazing sun, sparkling sea, and barren rock, Galoup and his men live the correct, rigid life of the Legionaire - spotless and well-creased unforms, demanding physical labor, and ritualized exercise and gymnastics. Except for those evenings when they cut loose at the local disco with their beautiful African girlfriends, they live in a hyper-masculine, male-only domain. But when Sentain's heroics lead to growing popularity with both his fellow Legionaires and the unit commander, Forestier (Michel Subor), a resentful Galoup embarks on a course of action that leads to his own destruction. The final scenes of him in a disco - alone, isolated, and spinning out of control - are unforgettable.Claire Denis, who as a young girl lived near the Foreign Legion base in Djibouti, tells her story with alternating images of stark despair and staggering beauty, and they've been lovingly preserved in this DVD edition. Film buffs on the lookout for something original should take a glance at "Beau Travail" - it's a memorable and rewarding experience."
From a former legionnaire
shane | hereford UK | 04/23/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film caught me by surprise, I found it in my local video store (in Hereford, UK). As it was one of very few foreign legion films on the market I had to watch it. I spent 2 and half years where the film was filmed (Djibouti), some of the actors were genuine legionnaires, I recongized the names and faces, to this end, it was warming to see a fictional pictorial account of the Legion, and it brought back some harsh memories. The plot is hardly exciting, and at times the 'tia chi yoga in the desert is rather farcical, however, the image of true legionnaires doing the assault courses, the conditions they live in and the desert are highly accurate, to this end I found in refreshing in that although not an action packed drama, not a documentary, but an combination of the two, and not a ridiculouos Claude Van Damme stand up comedy. I would recommend this if only for its realisic content parts. I would also highy recommend 'The Naked Soldier' by Tony sloane, a fantastically true account of the French Foreign legion, unlike no other."
Visually Stunning and Poetic
tarakey | florida and london | 09/20/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Just had to throw in my 5 stars as this is one of my favorite films ever, and some of the poor reviews here do not do the film justice. Claire Denis is a wonderfully observant and subtle filmmaker of both land/nature and human emotions. The plot is loosely based on Billy Budd, but especially noteworthy is Agnes Varda's stark beautiful cinematography and Denis Lavant's amazing performance. The final disco sequence is breathtaking, truly one of the best 'performance' sequences ever, and oddly in tune with other acrobatic feats Lavant has displayed in other films (Lovers on the Bridge and Mauvais Sang)"
Wow, had to weigh-in to up the rating
J. Forelle | NY, NY | 12/14/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I guess a film (book, artwork...) that creates such a divergence in opinion is one that is worth checking out.
Not a truly difficult story to follow, as was suggested by a few other reviewers. Certainly stark, but it's only like an hour and twenty minutes, not tedious by any stretch of imagination.
I saw this as something of a continuation of the saga Bruno Forestiere that started with Godard's "Le Petit Soldat".
Anyway, no use getting into too much film theory for this movie. It's as beautifully shot as any movie, the ending was about the most intense (though bizarre) few minutes of a movie I can remember seeing.
This isn't "three star" (whatever that means) review."