[Movie] Beau Travail (1999)

  • Directed by: Claire Denis
  • Cast: Denis Lavant, Michel Subor, Grégoire Colin
  • Loosed based on Herman Melville’s Billy Budd (1988)

The movie is about legionnaires (highly trained infantry soldiers) in the French Foreign Legion. The setting is in Djibouti.

The main plot is the rivalry and jealousy within the ritualistic masculine life. All scenes of the film seem choreographed as actors pose and move as a group. Every aspect of men’s lives – exercising, eating, resting, fighting, meticulous ironing, and doing the laundry – becomes a solemn moment of the day. These ceremonial days become every day, and the meaning of every day is lost. Viewers just wonder why these legionnaires are there, what their missions are, or even where they are.

Even though the movie might be seen as being a little bit stylish, out of points, or even boring, a small fragment of psychological struggle keeps the movie in line without derailing the whole. Strong group actions by soldiers are contrasted with the dances of Arab girls in a very kitsch discotheque. A slightly skewed look to the general prejudices of masculine and feminine actions takes turns.

The film is beautifully shot. And there is more. The film gives you a chance to look at life but making the meaning is up to you.

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