Monday, August 29, 2016

Beau Travail (1999)

Director: Claire Denis
Writer:    Claire Denis
Cinematographer: Agnes Godard
Cast: Denis Lavant, Michael Subor
Language: French

The film focuses on an ex-foreign legion (Denis Lavant) officer as he recalls his once glorious life, leading troops in Africa.

You can't do much wrong if you start your film with a club scene set to 'Kiss Kiss' song from Tarkan. The film has a meditative quality to it as we are shown various routines that the legion goes through in their non-combat days. First half of the film will work very well as an advertisement for recruitment. The character played by Denis Lavant is like the second in command with a father fixation for his own reporting officer. It could be sexual as well but it is not explicitly mentioned. In the beginning of the film, he mentions that 'Freedom begins with remorse'. The remorse that he is noting here is concerning his actions when he had a young man whom he thought of as a competition for him in terms of his superior officer's attention/affection.

It is an adaptation of Herman Melville's 1888 novella Billy Budd. It also reminded me of William Friedkin's 'Cruising' which also had a very confused protagonist. It is a great watch and has got a super great soundtrack. Claire Denis is a very interesting director and the films that I've watched of her's has a unique quality to them while each of them being very different in terms of settings.

Rating: 4.5/5