Tuesday, May 14, 2013

941. Beau Travail (1999)

Running Time: 90 minutes
Directed By: Claire Denis
Written By: Claire Denis, Jean-Pol Fargeau, from the story Billy Budd, Sailor by Herman Melville
Main Cast: Denis Lavant, Gregoire Colin, Michel Subor, Richard Courcet, Nicholas Duvauchelle
Click here to view the trailer


Pushing through, despite the urge to take a much needed break, I come to "Beau Travail" - a French, military life film from director Claire Denis.

I'll be honest, I really couldn't make heads or tails out of this one. THE BOOK notes, and I quote: "Denis tells her stories through images rather than through dialogue and plot, with a gift for color, lighting and composition that is unsurpassed". That may be the reason that this film came off as Greek to me. As mentioned above, the film is a portrait of military life, inside the French Foreign Legion. The film is a narration by one character, Sergeant Galoup (Lavant), who recalls the glory days of proudly serving as a Legionnaire. The film seems to center around a feud that Galoup had with one of the men, Gilles Sentain (Colin), a regular private and someone who Galoup may or may not have repressed homosexual feelings about, which would explain his disdain for him. In fact, the whole film seems to have an undertone of homosexuality (not that there's anything wrong with that) and THE BOOK even notes that with this film Denis is paying homage to the beauty of the male specimen, something that isn't hard to miss.

Look, I'm really not sure what to say about this film. Like an entree at a fine dining restaurant, I tried it and I simply didn't like it. It's obvious that Denis was much less concerned with telling a story, but rather using images to get her points across and it rarely worked to draw me into any sort of relationship with the film. Sure, there were a few parts where I took a keener notice, than others. For example, watching these men be put through such rigorous exercises, day in and day out and watching each one's own technique in getting through the obstacles, was, in a way, fascinating. Also (and I really didn't pick up on it until THE BOOK suggested it) I like the idea that Galoup's ill will toward Sentain is because he is jealous/attracted to him. He's supposed to be this tough, soldier type and therefore, could never bring himself to tell Sentain how he feels, so the repression of those feelings causes an upchuck of bad vibes, toward Sentain. Perhaps he's even mad with himself for feeling that way, perhaps he's never felt that way before and of course, that would be why he shoots himself at the end of the film, because he simply is disgusted with himself...maybe.

Otherwise, unless those are themes and ideas that you want to explore, I can tell you that this film just isn't worth your time, unless your a BOOK hound and are trying to pick off each one, like myself. Otherwise, skip it, because there are much better films, with more "must see" qualities out there. Also, I know I've said it before (recently, in fact), but I am just SICK TO DEATH of war films or films centered around the Army and soldiers and stuff like that. It has never been an atmosphere that has appealed to me and even as THE BOOK heightens my cinematic taste buds, it's still a genre I just can't stomach. End of story.

RATING: 3/10  A few notches for effort and for the few scenes that weren't awful, but all in all a big stinker and one that I'm glad have under my belt.


May 14, 2013  10:19pm

1 comment:

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