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Beau travail

Released Sep 4, 1999 1h 30m Drama List
87% Tomatometer 45 Reviews 77% Audience Score 2,500+ Ratings
Foreign Legion officer, Galoup, recalls his once glorious life, leading troops in the Gulf of Djibouti. His existence there was happy, strict and regimented, but the arrival of a promising young recruit, Sentain, plants the seeds of jealousy in Galoup's mind. He feels compelled to stop him from coming to the attention of the commandant who he admires, but who ignores him. Ultimately, his jealousy leads to the destruction of both Sentain and himself. Read More Read Less
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Beau travail

What to Know

Critics Consensus

Beau Travail finds director Claire Denis drawing on classic literature to construct a modern tragedy fueled by timeless desires.

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Critics Reviews

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Lisa Schwarzbaum Entertainment Weekly Rated: A Sep 7, 2011 Full Review Chris Vognar Dallas Morning News As much poem as film. It requires patience, which it rewards at every languid turn. Rated: A- Mar 7, 2002 Full Review Ed Gonzalez Slant Magazine Beau Travail is an allegorical tale of revenge and jealousy set within a French Foreign Legion outpost in Africa. Rated: 4/4 May 2, 2001 Full Review Susan Sontag Artforum A dazzling riff on Melville’s Billy Budd. You’ll never forget the final scene, when the amazing Denis Lavant starts to dance. May 2, 2024 Full Review Sean Burns WBUR’s Arts & Culture The movie is a mass of engorged muscles and entwined limbs; desire rerouted through conformity and cruelty in the rhythm of the night. Mar 9, 2023 Full Review Annlee Ellingson CineWomen [Claire] Denis has crafted a psychological portrait as exquisite and harsh as the East African landscape so gorgeously captured by cinematographer Agnès Godard. Aug 17, 2022 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

View All (164) audience reviews
Dani G I never knew exactly what to think about this film while watching it. Interesting, though Rated 2 out of 5 stars 08/15/23 Full Review Leaburn O It's basically a French portrayal of what the opening half to Full Metal Jacket would look like if Colonel Kurtz was the drill sergeant. It's a bit drawn out and brooding. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 05/25/23 Full Review Brian M Brilliantly shot and has a lot of truly stellar moments, but let's calm down a little people -- definitely in the great, but not THAT great category. The ending will be divisive. I get it, and I hate it, but it's not awful. It has everything you like and everything you hate about foreign films. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 02/12/23 Full Review Audience Member Claire Denis' 90's indie is meditative and highly economical. The director takes on the task of applying a narrative so small to a 90 minute runtime and actually succeeds with the immersive camerawork, African geography and naturalistic performances. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 02/20/23 Full Review dave s In Beau Travail, director Claire Denis seemingly sets out to establish the fine line between languid and sluggish. Set in Djibouti, a French Foreign Legion officer becomes obsessed with a new member of the unit and sets out to sabotage any opportunity the recruit may have had for attention from his superiors. While the film is wondrous to look at, capturing the raw, arid beauty of east Africa, the visuals really add nothing to the story or the development of the characters, never a good thing in a visual medium. Is the movie intriguing? At times, certainly. Is it insightful? To a degree, especially for those not familiar with the Foreign Legion. And finally: Is it engrossing? Not really, primarily because the whole thing comes across as being on the sluggish side of the line. Rated 2.5 out of 5 stars 03/30/23 Full Review Audience Member Watching Beau Travail is like reading a poem. It is probably the best and most calibrated deconstruction of masculinity and homoerotic repression in the military. Without the burden of carrying a message, Claire Denis breaks all conventions and moves her hypnotizing film away from what we would think it would be to tell a story like this, she risks and builds this story of desires, timeless passions, betrayal and envy full of subtle details that make it a non-linear treasure. Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars 02/27/23 Full Review Read all reviews
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Cast & Crew

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Movie Info

Synopsis Foreign Legion officer, Galoup, recalls his once glorious life, leading troops in the Gulf of Djibouti. His existence there was happy, strict and regimented, but the arrival of a promising young recruit, Sentain, plants the seeds of jealousy in Galoup's mind. He feels compelled to stop him from coming to the attention of the commandant who he admires, but who ignores him. Ultimately, his jealousy leads to the destruction of both Sentain and himself.
Director
Claire Denis
Screenwriter
Claire Denis, Jean-Pol Fargeau, Herman Melville
Distributor
New Yorker Films
Production Co
La Sept-Arte, Tanais, SM Films
Genre
Drama
Original Language
Canadian French
Release Date (Theaters)
Sep 4, 1999, Original
Box Office (Gross USA)
$271.6K
Runtime
1h 30m
Sound Mix
Surround, Dolby SR
Aspect Ratio
Flat (1.85:1)
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