Although the sailor Querelle (Brad Davis) is strong, he is also an outcast. The crimes he commits free him, and this freedom gives him power. The sailors on the naval destroyer submit themselves to Querelle’s gradual transformation and give in to his will.
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Somewhat surreal with it's clearly artificial setting, a faux sound stage Brest, strange lighting and eroticised sailors, policemen, and criminals all looking like they've stepped out of a Tom of Finland drawing.
Could have been made for TV, shot in the most brilliant synthetic of fire and ice, a theatrical inundation. Indeed a sadomasochistic endeavor, and a literal jump in the pond for RWF, the sinking. Now please make a proper transfer of "Women in New York," okay? We deserve it. Come on, sailor, touch it.
Eclectic and plethoric but definitely a worth-see. What I loved in this film is its idiosyncratic cartoon-like and quasi theatrical aesthetics: the plot often oscillates from drama to narration to text to photography. Queer/gay/cabaret aesthetics are also very distinctive but play a second-fiddle role here IMO.
Bizarrely has the reputation as 'lesser Fassbinder' (too stylized? too sexual? too queer?) but for me its his most ALIVE. A beautiful experience, erotic, melancholy, hilarious. The queers in this film are armed with switchblades, tough, violent, funny and refuse to be labeled, this is a delirious glimpse of what gay film could have been like before it went all bland, inoffensive, domestic and overly corporate.