Beau Travail

**** With Criterion Collection's new 4K restoration of French auteur Claire Denis' 1999 tour de force, her already stunning imagery is enhanced to reach its full potential. Set in a French Foreign Legion camp in Djibouti, the verdant greens of soldiers' uniforms and the vibrant blues of the Indian Ocean contrast even more brilliantly against the igneous heat of the African sun. Loosely based on Herman Melville's novella Billy Budd, Sailor, this blistering drama focuses on former Legion officer Galoup as he reminisces about his career leading the troops. Specifically, he recalls the time a younger, stronger and more charismatic man joined the squad, consuming him with jealousy, implied to stem from his own repressed sexuality. Unafraid to probe the pressures and pitfalls of masculinity, Beau Travail, which translates as "Good Work," argues that intensive athleticism can be both elegant and brutal. Abstract images of shirtless men relentlessly performing training rituals are rhythmic and hypnotic, yet devoid of glamorization—Denis opts to cultivate an authentic atmosphere rather than the typical propagandistic action that dominates domestic military movies. It's why she remains one of the best working directors. NR. MIA VICINO. Cinema 21's Virtual Theater.