“A dazzling riff on Melville’s Billy Budd. You’ll never forget the final scene, when the amazing Denis Lavant starts to dance.” - Susan Sontag, Artforum

“A mélange of brooding appetites, where the inner strife of unanswered desire builds to a conclusion of quiet, tragic violence.” - Caroline Golum, Screen Slate

Tuesday, July 9, 8:15 p.m. & Friday, July 19, 8:00 p.m. | In BEAU TRAVAIL, a loose adaptation of Herman Melville's 1888 novella Billy Budd set in the Horn of Africa’s Djibouti, French Foreign Legion sergeant Galoup (Denis Lavant) reflects on his tenure in the elite corp of soldiers and his dangerous obsession with Légionnaire Gilles Sentain. We present Claire Denis’ masterful exploration of masculinity and power at the Film Center a lot (and oh boy, does it look good on our big screen), and while we love every second of the sand-covered, sunbaked stunner, it is the final rapturous minutes that live in our heads rent free. Alone in a mirrored dance club, as Corona’s electropop song “The Rhythm of the Night” plays, Galoup—between casual puffs of his cigarette—bursts into movement; spinning, jumping, and lunging in a dance that seems to answer to, and perhaps rebel against, the tense, repressed desire of the film. Though the dance is spontaneous and jerky, Lavant (who trained as a pantomime and with the circus) is in complete control, giving Galoup a release and reprieve from his guilt and shame. Is Galoup dead? Is he celebrating? Is he mourning? Denis lets us decide for ourselves with this startling, energizing ending.

Awards & Nominations

Winner - Special Mention, Berlin Film Festival
Winner - Best Cinematography, César Awards, France


Last ShotStick the landing. Bring it home. Finish strong. In cinema, the last shot is arguably the most important. “This is it, this is the final moment, it is perfect!” only to have it go on, stumbling and fumbling its way to the credits? For all those missed opportunities, there are also the pitch-perfect conclusions, the memorable last looks, the frames that catch your breath in your throat and with pure artistry not only conclude a film but underscore, emphasize, or affirm the entire running time that came before it. Our 11-film Last Shot series explores impeccable resolutions in film. View full Last Shot series. *Spoiler alert: the endings of all films in this series are mentioned (as subtly as possible) in their description, and the accompanying still images do not reflect their final frames.

The Film Center is ADA accessible. This presentation will be projected without open captions. The theater is hearing-loop equipped. For accessibility requests, please email filmcenter@saic.edu