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Beau Travail (2020 Restoration)

Beau Travail (2020 Restoration)

With her ravishingly sensual take on Herman Melville’s ‘Billy Budd, Sailor’, Claire Denis firmly established herself as one of the great visual tone poets of our time. Amid the azure waters and sunbaked desert landscapes of Djibouti, a French Foreign Legion sergeant (Denis Lavant) sows the seeds of his own ruin as his obsession with a striking young recruit (Grégoire Colin) plays out to the thunderous, operatic strains of Benjamin Britten.

Denis and cinematographer Agnès Godard fold military and masculine codes of honor, colonialism’s legacy, destructive jealousy, and repressed desire into shimmering, hypnotic images that ultimately explode in one of the most startling and unforgettable endings in all of modern cinema.

The film has been beautifully restored in 4K for this 2020 restoration.

“What Ms. Denis has made of “Billy Budd” is the visually spellbinding cinematic equivalent of a military ballet in which the legionnaires’ rigorous drills and training rituals are depicted as ecstatic rites of purification, the embodiment of an impenetrable masculine mystique before which the director stands in awe. Where another filmmaker exploring the same material might emphasize its homoerotic subtext, Ms. Denis is in search of something deeper, more elemental and ultimately more elusive.” (New York Times)

“A masterpiece.” (Chicago Reader)

“As much poem as film. It requires patience, which it rewards at every languid turn.” (Dallas Morning News)

“Whatever the reason, Denis’s stew of barely repressed desire and toxic masculinity is an exceptionally potent brew, one that looks and feels just as ravishing as it did when it first came out.” (

Tuesday, September 29
Doors 6:00 pm | Movie 6:30 pm *Start time subject to change
Advance tickets $15 HERE | $15 at the door

Saturday, October 3
Doors 4:15 pm | Movie 4:45 pm *Start time subject to change
Advance tickets $15 HERE | $15 at the door

*Minors OK! (Please note this film is rated 18A.) Must be 19+ w/ID for bar service.
**Groupons and passes OK for any single film! Please redeem at the door.

PLEASE NOTE: All of the Rio Theatre’s screenings are operating at a sharply reduced capacity. We can’t guarantee availability of tickets at the door, so advance tickets for all screening events are strongly recommended. Our online box office can be found at Online sales for every screening automatically end 1 hour before any given showtime.

BEAU TRAVAIL (Claire Denis, 1999 / 93 mins / 14A / French with English subs) Foreign Legion officer, Galoup, 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.


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