Beau Travail

Ladymol's Review:


Not the easiest film to review. Firstly, there is no gay content at all. The film puts a new slant on the theme of Melvilleís Billy Budd: older commander has irrational hatred for new recruit.† Set amongst the Legionnaires in an outpost in Africa, the story is told in flashback by the commander who tries to kill the recruit. The real star of the film is the country, shown in all its harsh beauty. Motivations for actions are utterly obscure. Itís rather like pairing a story down to a few words for dramatic effect. It can work to a point, but beyond that it becomes meaningless. I felt as if I was seeing the action at random intervals, but somehow the main part of the film was being shown when I wasnít looking. I have no idea why any of the action happened, and the action is so sparse, you really do want to understand it.

It is watchable, mainly for the scenery and the details of Legionnaire training (well, it interested me, but maybe Iím biased there). I wouldnít make it a priority to see though.

Cerisaye's Review:

A film about the French Foreign legion with very little dialogue and no obvious story line.†

Apparently based on Billy Budd by Herman Melville, what you do get is admittedly beautiful men doing lots of rigorous exercises in the hot sun, to a soaring musical accompaniment.

Whatís the point you ask?† Havenít a clue.†

The film is set in Africa, I think.† It calls to mind another arthouse favourite, Derek Jarmanís Sebastiane, without the sex that at least perked my interest there.† A senior officer becomes obsessed with a bolshie young recruit, seeing him as a threat to the customs and traditions of the Legion.†

Another example of what happens under the tensions and strain of an enclosed all-male environment.† Most of these men are societyís misfits, on the run for one reason or another.† The Legion has made them trained killers but they seem to have very little to do except strenuous physical activity and make-work projects.

Itís very homoerotic.† The men have gorgeous bodies and exude masculinity.† But I had no idea why the senior officer had it in for the recruit so badly when weíre shown nothing to explain hatred that ends with him back in Marseilles pruning his trees.†


Buy Beau Travail [1999] from Amazon UK here

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