Beau Travail (Denis, 1998): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.45pm
This is screening as part of the Passport to Cinema season and is also on at BFI Southbank on Friday 27th July in NFT3.
Chicago Reader review:
'A gorgeous mirage of a movie (1999), Claire Denis' reverie
about the French foreign legion in eastern Africa, suggested by Herman
Melville's Billy Budd, Foretopman, benefits especially from
having been choreographed (by Bernardo Montet, who also plays one of the
legionnaires). Combined with Denis' superb eye for settings, Agnes
Godard's cinematography, and the director's decision to treat major and
minor elements as equally important, this turns some of the military
maneuvers and exercises into thrilling pieces of filmmaking that surpass
even Full Metal Jacket and converts some sequences in a disco
into vibrant punctuations. The story, which drifts by in memory
fragments, is told from the perspective of a solitary former sergeant
(Denis Lavant, star of The Lovers on the Bridge) now living in
Marseilles and recalling his hatred for a popular recruit (Gregoire
Colin) that led to the sergeant's discharge; the fact that his superior
is named after the hero of Jean-Luc Godard's Le petit soldat and
played by the same actor almost 40 years later (Michel Subor) adds a
suggestive thread, as do the passages from Benjamin Britten's opera Billy Budd.
Most of all, Denis, who spent part of her childhood in Djibouti,
captures the poetry and atmosphere—and, more subtly, the women—of Africa
like few filmmakers before her. A masterpiece.'
Here is the trailer.