Top critical review
on 19 August 2017
Querelle is a 1982 West German-French English-language drama film directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder and it marked Fassbinder's final film as a writer/director before his death. The script is adapted from French author Jean Genet's 1947 novel Querelle de Brest, which I have not read, so I can't say how accurate/true the film is to the book. But oh what to say about this film; firstly today it looks like something out of a Jean Paul Gaultier fashion or fragrance campaign, it’s very atmospheric, quite surreal, it's filmed entirely in a studio in an almost stifling lurid amber light with the films sets having a highly stylised symbolic look to them.
I must admit that I found the story hard to understand and follow, but it’s provocative and has fetish themes with some disturbing scenes, violence, and some fairly lurid sex scenes. The plot centres on the very handsome, athletic, Belgian sailor Georges Querelle played by the late Brad Davis who manages to perfectly capture the languorous, seething sexy nature of the character who is heartless, an adventurer, opportunist, thief, and murderer. His ship arrives in Brest and he visits the Feria, a bar and brothel for sailors run by the Madame Lysiane (played by the legendary late Jeanne Moreau) and this tense, menacing, almost claustrophobic film and its characters begin to reveal themselves as the story unfolds exposing a dark underworld. I found the film very avant-garde, it has a strange stillness, but I can’t, in all honesty, say I enjoyed it, I found it incoherent and disjointed, but I think ultimately it's a film you have to watch and decide for yourself; it's certainly homoerotic.