Saturday, January 14, 2012

I want to destroy something beautiful...

Beau Travail (1999) - Denis
Claire Denis loosely adapts Melville's Billy Budd- a story about the human desire to destroy something pure and beautiful, with a sensual, languid imagery. Arid, rocky Djibouti backdrop clashes with smooth, muscular bodies of young Legionnaires as they carry on their boring daily routines (mostly shirtless) with no real enemies in sight. Galoup (Denis Lavant), a seasoned military man takes an immediate dislike to a beautiful, righteous new recruit Sentain (Grégoire Colin) and looks for excuses to destroy him. His feelings are mixture of desire, jealousy and envy.

It's Lavant's physicality on full display here. His pockmarked face and athleticism dominate the screen. I thought Galoup's narration was unnecessary at first since it doesn't add anything much to the plot. Then again, Denis has little concerns for that. On this viewing, I can see how it accentuates Galoup's loneliness and isolation. Plus, Lavant's gravelly voice is music to my ears and makes the narration all the more poignant. Great Michele Subor also stars as the commandant without principles. The ending is definitely my favorite movie ending of all time. I really hope Criterion picks this one up in the future because New Yorker DVD sucks.