Opening with a foreign cover of Holly Valance’s seminal pop masterpiece Kiss Kiss and apparently based on Herman Melville’s Billy Budd, Beau Travail is the Nytol of cinema. Twenty minutes after pressing play you’ll feel your eyelids become heavy, the world around you will slowly blur and you’ll sink back into your chair like a beanbag full of marshmallows, for this is a film in which nothing coherent really happens.
Narrated by French Foreign Legion Chief Master Seargeant Galoup (Denis Lavant), we follow the mundane day-to-day activities of the troops; washing, ironing perfect creases into their uniforms, getting a haircut, silently performing training exercises and occasionally enjoying a bout of aggressive hugging. The film has a half-remembered, dreamlike quality, and director Claire Denis has an eye for colour and lighting, but the lack of story makes it hard to care.
Choose life 3/10