DVD Review: QUERELLE (1982)

PrintE-mail Written by Rob Talbot

Querelle Review

Review: Querelle / Cert: 18 / Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder / Screenplay: Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Burkhard Driest / Starring: Brad Davis, Franco Nero, Laurent Malet / Release Date: March 10th

Fassbinder's work has always divided critics, and the 44th and final film in his canon is certainly no exception. Based on Jean Genet's novel Querelle de Brest, it concerns the titular sailor's (Davis, of Midnight Express) misadventures in the red-light port of Brest, where he enters into a vortex of petty crime, murder, and brutal sexual discovery.

With its dreamlike, surrealist texture and relentless homoeroticism, Querelle will certainly never be accused of being entertainment for the masses. Instead it stands as a compelling work from one of the all time great arthouse filmmakers. There's a wilful unreality about the proceedings that one can't help but admire.

The narrative is completely bound to a handful of extravagant but intentionally stagey sets by award-winning Cabaret and Das Boot production designer Rolf Zehetbauer, which even include an obviously painted sunset. The temporal location is similarly uncertain, seeming like somewhere in the postwar years (the setting of Genet's book) but for the presence of video games, modern Japanese motorcycles, and most of the cast being clad either in Village People S&M outfits or fancy dress sailors' uniforms. Allied to the visuals, frequent Fassbinder collaborator Peer Rabal's score summons up a palpable atmosphere of dread.

Sadly, Fassbinder bungles the denouement's final twist so badly that it almost seems like an afterthought. An almost omnipresent voice-over relating portions of Genet's novel and quotes from religious texts also grates, over-explaining and philosophising around each new incident, and some of the dialogue, surreal in intent or not, at some points comes over as just plain dumb. In addition to this, Jean Moreau's song, 'Each Man Kills the Things he Loves', repeated ad nauseam, is too obvious and, quite frankly, absolutely bloody awful.

However, gripes aside, Querelle remains a fascinating piece of outsider cinema, and a memento of a period when it really did feel as though film was moving into uncharted and challenging new territory.

Extras: Mini documentary / Introduction by Volker Schlondorff / Original trailer



Suggested Articles:
Released originally in 1992, this classily presented BFI Blu-Ray release of writer/director Neil Jor
By this fourth season, the adventures of OB/GYN doctor Mindy Lahiri (series creator, producer, write
Since the release of the outstanding Shaun the Sheep Movie back in early 2015, the episodic TV serie
Yu-Gi-Oh GX Season 2 has 52 episodes and that is far more than it actually needed. Because of this t
scroll back to top

Add comment

Security code
Refresh

Other articles in DVD / Blu-ray Reviews

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK 21 February 2017

THE CRYING GAME 19 February 2017

THE MINDY PROJECT SEASON 4 15 February 2017

TRAIN TO BUSAN 14 February 2017

OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL 14 February 2017

ABANDONED DEAD 14 February 2017

SHAUN THE SHEEP: PIZZA PARTY 09 February 2017

YU-GI-OH GX SEASON 2 08 February 2017

BEYOND THE GATES 06 February 2017

WOODY ALLEN: SEVEN FILMS - 1986-1991 06 February 2017

- Entire Category -

Sign up today!
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner