"Brad Davis is captivating as the sailor boy prostitute "Querelle" desired by men and women alike in this odd, yet gentle masterpiece. Clearly not for all audiences, the movie is dark and often harrowing, at times recalling other classic Genet adaptations, and occassionally, even the legendary "Midnight Express" which made Davis a star. Like the latter film, there are moments here that shock the viewer into action, perhaps fewer than necessary, and yet always mezmerizing and accomplished. Steeped in an aura of bright, almost unimaginable color, "Querelle" is one of those gay-cinema classics that deserves a place in an adult video collection (like "Taxi Zum Klo" for example.) Yet remember - this is a harrowing vision, and clearly not for every member of the family. Still, Davis is superb!"
Awful picture quality, get VHS instead
Andy Rubio | 07/15/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What a shame that the distributors are so cynical to release this great film under such poor conditions. The subtle oranges and pinks have been thrown together by a quick and presumably cheap transfer to DVD that they all now merge into some garish red. It's almost unwatchable compared to the VHS copy I own. I thought DVD was supposed to be the ultimate in picture quality... forget it, don't be conned. It's just another way to get us to buy the things we've already got. One more thing: get this - they say that, as a special feature of the DVD, it comes with theatrical trailers - THE TRAILERS ARE FOR OTHER FILMS! AAuuughghghhh!What a [bad deal]... keep your money... you have been warned.The people who released this DVD should be in jail."
Just to go against everybody....
Stalwart Kreinblaster | Xanadu | 10/29/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is not Fassbinder's best - but still one of his great imperfect films. The ideas behind this film are profound - and Fassbinder has a very good understanding of the Jean Genet book - you will not find another adaptation of Genet as consistent as this at displaying all of the artificiality, the theme of the double, and the theme of sex and death. Fassbinder was very sly in his control over dialogue and almost comic monotone used to a startling effect here - at times it sounds like an emotionless reading of lines - but this is always done to contrast the other elements of the film and the general theme of the story - Fassbinder had always had a similar approach with dialogue and sountrack in his movies. His use of color and lighting is also rather poignant in this one (not as great as Lola - but still striking) and Xaver Schwarzenberger is one of the great cinematographers of all time. My final decision about this one - is that the viewer should already have some knowledge of Genet - preferably having read the book already - before viewing this film - which like his even greater adaptations - 'Effi Briest' and 'Berlin Alexanderplatz' - has a unique and completely respectfull aproach to the literature. It is a pity that Fassbinder did not live to make more films."
Let's not get ahead of ourselves.
Tim C | Richmond, VA United States | 07/12/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This movie truly made me rethink my pompous blow-hard nature: that is to say, I'm fanatical about Jean Genet, madly in love with Brad Davis, and I even MOSTLY like Fassbinder. But for some reason, I can never seem to get through the first half of this movie.Jean Genet's forbidden story of Querelle was, simply put, never meant to be translated into a movie. The internal struggles of Querelle were too innate, too complex...to ever be categorized and flow-charted and minced down into two hours of a panel-by-panel film script. Now, with that said, I think Fassbinder made an excellent attempt to put you right up inside the taboo story of our favorite murderer/hero. The scenery is luscious, the costumry finely detailed, the casting superb. Not to mention the delicious sailor booty of a certain leading man, Brad Davis.Still, I find this movie left me with much to be desired. After the torrid affair of Querelle and Nono, I wanted to roll over and go to sleep (no underlying meaning meant). Even THEN, there was only so much tension up until that point, and the plot manuevering that Fassbinder undertook did nothing to appease me. For example, the lusty leiutenant who writes of Querelle in the novel, keeps, instead, a tape recorded diary. With any horribly tedious passages taken directly from the text. In terribly stiff monologues. Scary stuff.All in all, I rated this movie with four of five stars. It perfectly compliments any Genet collection and makes for wonderful ornamentation on your DVD shelves. But if you've never heard of Jean Genet or never saw a Fassbinder movie, you should probably buy a different homoerotic brothel-lined story of metamorphoses and love."
A Captivating Aesthetic
Jack Malebranche | Portland, OR | 10/25/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Querelle is based on Jen Genet's Querelle de Brest. Fassbinder uses Genet's strange mix of blunt dialog and masturbatory narration to create a film that feels more like a revelation of poetry scratched into one of Brest's pissoirs.
Sometimes the characters speak to each other, sometimes they seem to speak in spite of one another, sometimes they simply speak - all too appropriate in the port of Brest, a fertile ground for nearly anonymous, mechanical sex. Though Querelle (perfectly cast), at once vulnerable and malevolent, is the subject of the film's action, the true star is this seething port. Brest is realized entirely on a soundstage, which allows the director to quite literally paint with colored lights and symbolic, often pornographic details. Though ostensibly set somewhere in the first half of the twentieth century, the classic effortlessly melds with the modern (1980s) with the addition of an arcade game and archetypal "homosexuals" that might have stepped from a Tom of Finland drawing.
Querelle is a sailor "in danger of discovering himself", as the mistress of the brothel reveals from her tarot. His strength demands the respect of his peers, his beauty stokes his supervisor's prurient desires, but his inner conflicts drive him to self-destruction as he explores his own deviance. Lust morphs into violence, denial morphs into degradation, sex morphs into violence, and violence morphs into love.
Far from the flip, whitewashed, sexless homosexuality that saturates the media today, Querelle explores the conflicts and complex relations that occur between virile men who discover they desire each other.
In contrast to some other reviewers, I would have to say that this is actually my favorite Fassbinder film--though perhaps it is not representative of his work overall."