Loosely based on the opera Billy Budd, Beau Travail takes place in Djibouti, East Africa. Galoup, a sergeant major in the French Foreign Legion, narrates the story of his lethal obsession with another soldier and how it led to his exile. Set against the stark desert landscape, the soldiers carry out their gruelling yet balletic exercise regimes, which Denis contrasts with the clubs and nightlife of Djibouti.
"Beau Travail does frankly foreground male beauty, thereby highlighting the tension at the heart of a military society in which sentimental notions of comradeship, solidarity and love among men must strive to separate themselves from the taboo of homosexuality." - Hannah McGill