The imaginative French director Claire Denis proved her ability to beautifully choreograph a movie with her first effort Chocolat, released in 1989. This drama, also set in Africa, is inspired by Herman Melville's Billy Budd. Sergeant Galoup (Denis Lavant) is in charge of the men in a small French Foreign Legion outpost. These muscular soldiers spend their days in training, doing guard duty, and playing war games. For rest and relaxation, they swim in the ocean and dance in an open-air disco. The Africans in the town view them as strange outsiders from another world.

Bored with the routine of his life, Galoup finds himself upset by the interest of his commander (Michel Subor) in Sentain (Gregoire Colin), a new recruit who seems to impress everyone with his selflessness and generosity. Envy is a vicious emotion, bitter and vindictive. In this meticulously staged drama, Galoup comes up with a scheme to do away with Sentain.

Beau Travail is a lyrical work of art with exquisite cinematography by Agnes Godard and a beguiling musical score by Eran Tzur. The closing image of the film perfectly captures and conveys the sad fate of a man imprisoned in himself.