France, 1999, 93 min, Dir. Claire Denis, Not Rated, French with English subtitles, Janus Films
"A masterpiece." —Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
"Never for one moment does this shimmering, simmering emotional desert storm of a film relax its grip on your senses." —Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
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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.
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