Beau Travail Review

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A grizzled ex-soldier recalls his time training recruits in the French foreign legion.


This largely dialogue-free film follows a group of French legionnaires as they sweat and train and sweat. Some plot is incrementally revealed, though, as Sergeant-Major Galoup (Lavant) describes in flashback how the arrival of a new recruit threatened his relationship with commanding officer Bruno (Subor).

Eventually Galoup's anger boils over into something more murderous in what even director Denis admits is the, "umpteenth adaptation of Melville's Billy Budd, Sailor!" Yet the result was worth making, if only for Lavant's extraordinary performance - a turn of rugged calm that occasionally explodes into fits of violent frustration and, somewhat less expectedly, highly-energetic disco-dancing.

Quality performances alone make this one to see.