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Good Work

Claire Denis
Beau travail
France 1999 / 82’

The Foreign Legion is the pride of the French armed forces and it recruits mainly citizens of other states, making it the most ethnically and culturally diverse fighting unit in the world. Famed for its hardnosed discipline and strenuous training methods, it never operates within France. The Good Work introduces audiences to retired Sgt. Galoup (Denis Lavant) who now lives in Marseille and reminisces about his service in North Africa, where he trained mercenaries, dated the local beauty and enjoyed the eponymous good work. It all changed when Sentain, a soldier who strangely unsettles Galoup, joins the unit (Sentain is played by Grégoire Colin, on of Claire Denis's favorite actors). In dealing with his own fascination, the sergeant decides to destroy the young recruit. Cinematography by Agnès Godard fills his reminiscences of military trainings with poetry and a homoerotic tension making the film akin to a contemporary ballet. Good Work, loosely based on Herman Melville's final novel, Billy Budd, enchanted critics and brought Denis international acclaim.

Adam Kruk

awards

César 2000 – Best Cinematography

Claire Denis

French director and screenwriter Claire Denis is one of the most important auteurs of modern film. She gained much experience assisting Rivette, Costa-Gavras, Jarmusch and Wenders. Already in her debut, Chocolat (1988), she dealt with issues of racial and intercultural tensions, a topic she experienced in her childhood as the daughter of a colonial civil servant in Africa. The problem of colonialism and inequality in access to goods and education are leitmotifs in her work, which is also fueled by ideals of Paris '68. This is most powerfully expressed in Good Work(1999) starring Denis Lavant and White Material (2009) featuring Isabelle Huppert. In portraying her homeland, she is sensitive to social issues such as the situation of immigrants, which she took on in I Can't Sleep (1994), the frustrations of civil servants - Friday Night (2002), or family relationships, as in TheIntruder (2004). Against that background, Denis often sketches the erotic character of French society, as is evident in Trouble Every Day (2001) starring Béatrice Dalle, one of her favorite actresses. She also frequently casts Isaach de Bankole and Grégoire Colin. Denis works regularly with cinematographer Agnès Godard, whom she met in the 1970s at La Fmis, the French state film school in Paris, where Denis currently teaches film directing. The 2013 documentary Trespassing Bergman by Jane Magnusson and Hynek Pallas indicates that even the great Ingmar Bergman prized the films of Claire Denis.

Selected filmography

1988 Czekolada / Chocolat / Chocolate

1999 Piękna praca / Beau travail / Good Work

2004 Intruz / L’intrus / The intruder

2008 35 kieliszków rumu / 35 rhums / 35 Shots of Rum

2009 Biała Afryka / White Material

2013 Les salauds / Bastards

Cast & Crew

director Claire Denis
screenplay Claire Denis, Jean-Pol Fargeau
cinematography Agnès Godard
editing Nelly Quettier
music Charles Henri de Pierrefeu, Eran Zur
cast Denis Lavant, Grégoire Colin, Michel Subor
producer Patrick Grandperret
production La Sept-Arte, S.M. Films, Tanaïs Productions
sales Pyramide
language French, Russian, Italian
colouration colour