Beau Travail. Claire Denis. 1999. ⚅
Somebody described Denis as “the best living director today” a few years back, and that’s what it takes to get on the Official The Best list if you’re a woman. (At #91.) There are no further female directors on the list.
I’ve seen this movie several times before, and it’s absolutely fascinating. It’s got a camera (courtesy of Agnès Godard) that’s a very specific gaze, further amplified by cutting away to the locals constantly looking at the soldiers in bewilderment. It’s a chamber drama, but Denis refuses to let it remain that way by showing us the life outside the camp all the time.
It’s relentlessly tense.
It’s got the best final scene of any film ever, but it’s more than that: The use of Britten’s music interspersed with songs popular in 1999 is hypnotic. And it seems like it’s going to be a movie where not much happens, but it’s got a lot going on, only… subtly.
It’s one of my favourite movies. I tried getting it in 2K for this re-watch, but (SCANDALO) nobody’s released it on Blu Ray yet? What’s up with that?
If that happens, I’ll re-watch it once more.
Oh, I forgot to mention that it’s loosely based on Billy Budd, and if you’re expecting a naturalistic drama: This is not that. It’s slightly like an opera with less shouting. Or perhaps a ballet with extra shouting.
Today’s leftover cocktail is Alexander The Great…
… and I finally got rid of a bottle. Then again, this means that I can’t do any further cocktails that has to have creme de cacao… Is the final cocktail for this series going to be vodka diluted with more vodka!?
Anyway, it’s delish.
This blog post is part of the Officially The Best series.