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Beau Travail 15 rating

A new recruit provokes searing jealousy in Claire Denis' gruelling, sunbaked drama about a battalion of Foreign Legionnaires based in Djibouti.

Drama 1998 93 mins

Director: Claire Denis



In a remote coastal outpost in the former French colony of Djibouti, a battalion of Foreign Legionnaires spend their days enacting gruelling training exercises on sunbaked desert terrain, and their evenings circling girls at the local nightclub. Commander Bruno Forestier (Michel Subor) is admired by his men; less so is his prickly, solitary second-in-command Sergeant Galoup (Denis Lavant). Galoup is more interested in being ‘the perfect legionnaire’ than in being popular – at least until the arrival of sweet-natured new recruit Gilles Sentain (Grégoire Colin).

Directed by Claire Denis, and scripted by Denis and her regular writing partner Jean-Pol Fargeau around a loose riff on Herman Melville’s novella Billy Budd, Beau Travail maintains a simmering and sinister tension throughout. Ranked 7th in the 2022 Sight and Sound Great Films of All Time poll