Denis' extraordinary movie centres on Galoup (Lavant) who, while holed up in Marseille, recalls his time as a sergeant-major in the Foreign Legion. In the desert, he drilled raw recruits while quietly nurturing feelings of respect and love for his superior, Forestier (Subor). Then, with the arrival of Sentain (Colin), a soldier Forestier honoured for bravery, Galoup caved in to resentment, envy and hate. Though little is spelt out explicitly in this elliptical tale of repressed emotion leading to murderous jealousy, the film is admirably accessible and clear throughout. The director shows scant interest in the new recruit as an angelic incarnation of goodness - her concerns are with how a wide open colonial outpost may become a prison; how men may cope with an all-male society; how the physical may mirror the metaphysical. Hence, she and her team create a fixed, timeless world of mysterious, balletic rites, rippled with simmering homoerotic tensions. The intensity of mood and thematic resonance both derive almost entirely from the poetic juxtaposition of music and the stunning images of beauty and sustained, even surreal strangeness. Prepare to be blown away.
Cast and crew
Jean-Pol Fargeau, Claire Denis
Grégoire Colin Michel Subor Marta Tafesse Kassa Richard Courcet Denis Lavant