Starting from Cinema 2’s contention that money pervades all cinematic images, this chapter examines how Claire Denis’s Beau travail (1999) became visible and marketable as a queer film, and how different economies figured within the movie might inform our readings of it. By 1999, the film presumes an audience versed in homosocial relations and other queer tropes, as linked to figures like Herman Melville, whose novella Billy Budd inspires Beau travail. Reviews and ads for Beau travail thus promoted Melville’s imprint alongside bare, muscled flesh as joint indices of “homoerotic” content. This chapter argues however, that sex, gender, and embodiment no longer obey values and equivalencies of the past; concepts like “homoeroticism” must be reinterrogated. Beau travail’s characters and viewers must therefore form new alliances and hone new reading strategies regarding desire, value, and exchange. Such dilemmas, echoing notions in transgender theory, also impact the film’s political and postcolonial meanings.
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