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Tuesday, 17 August 2010 at 7.30pm
Women Directors

Translating Herman Melville's Billy Budd from the 18th-century Royal Navy to the modern Foreign Legion, Claire Denis has produced a simmering study of petty tyranny, fatuous duty and homoerotic repression. Spurning the barked histrionics of American boot camp pictures, Denis uses stylised audiovisual rhythms to convey the ennui endured by an isolated unit in Djibouti. As the sergeant seized by a pathological hatred of new recruit Grégoire Colin, Denis Lavant gives a remarkable, almost wordless performance that culminates in some astonishing disco gyrations. Shot through with motifs from Benjamin Britten's opera based on the same story, this is about as disconcerting as screen poetry can get.


Clair Denis