69 user 66 critic

Beau travail (1999)

Unrated | | Drama , War | 3 May 2000 (France)
This film focuses on an ex-Foreign Legion officer as he recalls his once glorious life, leading troops in Africa.


Claire Denis

On Disc

at Amazon

6 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »


Learn more

More Like This 

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

The relationship between a father and daughter is complicated by the arrival of a handsome young man.

Director: Claire Denis
Stars: Alex Descas, Mati Diop, Nicole Dogué
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A brother and sister reunite after time apart. But the sister is pregnant, which could either bring the siblings together or tear them apart.

Director: Claire Denis
Stars: Grégoire Colin, Alice Houri, Jacques Nolot
Chocolat (1988)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A young French woman returns to the vast silence of West Africa to contemplate her childhood days in a colonial outpost in Cameroon. Her strongest memories are of the family's houseboy, ... See full summary »

Director: Claire Denis
Stars: Isaach De Bankolé, Giulia Boschi, François Cluzet
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Amidst turmoil and racial conflict in a Francophone African state, a white French woman fights for her coffee crop, her family and ultimately for her life.

Director: Claire Denis
Stars: Isabelle Huppert, Christopher Lambert, Isaach De Bankolé
L'intrus (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

An emotionally cold man leaves the safety of his Alpine home to seek a heart transplant and an estranged son.

Director: Claire Denis
Stars: Michel Subor, Grégoire Colin, Yekaterina Golubeva
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

Isabelle, Parisian artist, divorced mother, is looking for love, true love at last.

Director: Claire Denis
Stars: Juliette Binoche, Xavier Beauvois, Philippe Katerine
Les salauds (2013)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

Marco returns to Paris after his brother-in-law's suicide, where he targets the man his sister believes caused the tragedy - though he is ill-prepared for her secrets as they quickly muddy the waters.

Director: Claire Denis
Stars: Vincent Lindon, Chiara Mastroianni, Julie Bataille
Drama | Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

Two American newlyweds in Paris experience a love so strong, it almost devours them.

Director: Claire Denis
Stars: Vincent Gallo, Tricia Vessey, Béatrice Dalle
Drama | Mystery | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Beautiful Daiga has emigrated from Lithuania to Paris and is looking for a place to stay and work. Theo is a struggling musician, and his brother Camille - a transvestite dancer. One of ... See full summary »

Director: Claire Denis
Stars: Yekaterina Golubeva, Richard Courcet, Vincent Dupont
Sea Sorrow (2017)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

An examination of the historical context for the current migrant crisis.

Director: Vanessa Redgrave
Stars: Ralph Fiennes, Emma Thompson
Son frère (2003)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Two brothers with a problematic relationship in the past, find together again when the elder one gets a dangerous disease and asks his brother to accompany him to several doctors.

Director: Patrice Chéreau
Stars: Bruno Todeschini, Éric Caravaca, Nathalie Boutefeu
Joe Hill (1971)
Certificate: GP Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

About the life and death of the legendary Swedish/American agitator Joe Hill.

Director: Bo Widerberg
Stars: Thommy Berggren, Anja Schmidt, Kelvin Malave


Cast overview, first billed only:
Denis Lavant ... Galoup
Michel Subor ... Commander Bruno Forestier
Grégoire Colin ... Gilles Sentain
Richard Courcet Richard Courcet ... Legionnaire
Nicolas Duvauchelle ... Legionnaire
Adiatou Massudi Adiatou Massudi ... Legionnaire
Mickael Ravovski Mickael Ravovski ... Legionnaire
Dan Herzberg Dan Herzberg ... Legionnaire
Giuseppe Molino Giuseppe Molino ... Legionnaire
Gianfranco Poddighe Gianfranco Poddighe ... Legionnaire
Marc Veh Marc Veh ... Legionnaire
Thong Duy Nguyen Thong Duy Nguyen ... Legionnaire
Jean-Yves Vivet Jean-Yves Vivet ... Legionnaire
Bernardo Montet Bernardo Montet ... Legionnaire
Dimitri Tsiapkinis Dimitri Tsiapkinis ... Legionnaire


This film focuses on ex-Foreign Legion officer, Galoup, as he recalls his once glorious life, leading troops in the Gulf of Djibouti. His existence there was happy, strict and regimented, but the arrival of a promising young recruit, Sentain, plants the seeds of jealousy in Galoup's mind. He feels compelled to stop him from coming to the attention of the commandant who he admires, but who ignores him. Ultimately, his jealousy leads to the destruction of both Sentain and himself. Written by L.H. Wong <lhw@sfs.org.sg>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | War


Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »





French | Italian | Russian

Release Date:

3 May 2000 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Bella tarea See more »

Filming Locations:



Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$21,003, 2 April 2000, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$247,606, 19 November 2000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby SR



Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


This was the film that inspired Greta Gerwig to be a director. See more »


Galoup: We all have a trashcan within. That's my theory.
See more »


Version of Schlitz Playhouse: Billy Budd (1952) See more »


La lune est claire
Performed by French Foreign Legion Music Band
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

2 August 2000 | by the red duchessSee all my reviews

Like all Claire Denis films, 'Beau Travail' demands constant vigilance and flexibility, never exactly forswearing narrative - there IS a plot here - but concentrating less on its mechanics than on the bits in between, the everyday rituals normally excised from the screen, a precise meditation on the landscape in which it is set, a rhythmic treatment of the titled beau travail, all seemingly irrelevant to the narrative, but making it inevitable, a linear narrative in a world of endless, pointless circles.

Like 'Once Upon A Time In America', 'Travail' opens with a sequence of seemingly random, unconnected sequences eventually bound together in an overpowering organising consciousness. A shot of a silhouetted mural of soldiers marching over craggy rocks, which look like waves, an appropriately Melvillean image, with Foreign Legion chants blared over them. The highly stylised rendering of a nightclub, which seems tiny, austere, minimally decorated, with lighting reflecting the rhythm of the music, and the soldiers between the local African women, their movements notably stilted, ritualised. The officer seated alone. The vast African landscape, a coastal desert, with abandoned phallic tanks, site of a military exercise, a group of topless men in rigid poses against the immemorial sand and sea, classical heroes. An unseen hand writing. A train travelling through the landscape as we follow someone's view out the window. The same point of view after the train has moved.

These images do have an independent function. They begin a pattern of dualities that are continued and complicated throughout the film leading to the eventual climax, always inscrutably observed by a third strand, Forestier, former informer turned commandant - water/desert; soldiers/locals; men/women; landscape/human; indoors/outdoors; play/work etc. But this is an army, and these disparate elements must be controlled, as they are, by Galoup, the sergeant. As the film opens, he embodies civilisation - he writes while others cannot communicate; he is the subject who sees, interprets, explains, while everyone else is an object in his narrative; he wears clothes while his soldiers go round naked; he is an all-seeing God who can decide men's fate, while these men are unthinking robots, sleepwalking through time-honoured rites.

The irony is that, because of all this, Galoup, the defender of discipline and convention, is the film's real outsider, not the mysterious Russian he seeks to expel, a man who learns another language to fit in, who quickly becomes one of the boys, who will defend his friends at the risk of his own death.

Is this why Galoup abhors him, his humanity in this mechanistic unit of marital discipline? Unlikely; Galoup is the only 'human' character in the film, it's difficult to tell individual soldiers, even Sentain. After all, that 's what the Foreign Legion, in popular terms anyway, is all about: a refuge for the hunted, somewhere to hide your identity and past, become part of an anonymous mass.

For me, though, there is something missing. For all the cool gazing on the masculine body, the absorbed interest in these very physical rituals, in the feminising of their military discipline (eg ironing; repeating the same tasks day in, day out, like housewives); there is a lack of the homoerotic charge lurching through Melville and Britten. The gaze of the camera is, of course, Galoup's, the narrative a visualising of what he writes; and when he lies on the bed with his gun near the end, we can't tell whether the gesture will be onanistic or suicidal. The rushed, hallucinatory climax, full of Leonesque stand-offs and ellipses, are framed by a shot of Galoup asleep, and a blazing white light when he awakes, as if he, like Noodles, has dreamed the whole thing, has sublimated his homosexuality into a murderous (but consummated) narrative, reduced vast geographical terrain (including three volcanoes whose explosive potential mirrors his own suppressed desire) to a narrow site for a private rite, a self-reflecting dance in an empty nightclub.

And how cool is it that the real president of Djibouti is called Ismael!

27 of 36 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 69 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Trending TV Series With Prime Video

Explore popular and recently added TV series available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial

Recently Viewed