Thursday, 4 January 2007
Querelle (1982) - Rainer Werner Fassbinder
The last film Rainer Werner Fassbinder directed before his tragic death from drugs - a film drenched in self-loathing, and homoeroticism.
The titular Querelle is a sailor who comes ashore in Brest, France to find his brother living a hedonistic lifestyle as the lover of the local bbrothel's madam. Through the film, through murder and capitulation Querelle questions himself constantly, searching for love and an identity. Tensest of all perhaps is his battle with his own homosexuality and the allure/power he has over other men as a result of his cherubic features.
The scorching oranges and reds of the photography imbue the film from start to finish with a raw, pasisonate erotic fervour matched only by the theatrical melodramatics of the cast given their bizarre rules, all taking place on some very shoddy sets. The aesthetic intensity of the film also carries over into the reflective pseudo-philosphical narration that lends the film a poetically lyrical feel, and a flowing structure that otherwise would be sorely missed - not least because of the sporadic use of title cards.
A visually striking film whose curiously hedonistic atmosphere seems to hide something more sentimental, something softer just beneath the surface that occasionally surfaces through rare glimpses of modest poignancy. Not Fassbinder's best film by any stretch of the imagination, but nonetheless an important one that lays bare many of his own personal daemons through the personae and events onscreen.