After two viewings and some thought, I’ve come to the conclusion that I admire the film “Querelle,” even if I don’t quite understand it. Lately, I’ve decided that anything that keeps my interest and has me wondering, long after the film is over, “gee, what was that all about?” is ipso facto worthy of praise. “Querelle” may have plenty of “what the fuck is this character babbling about” moments — but it has twice as many rewarding moments. The look, for starters — the port city of Brest on a small soundstage; musclebound French sailors dressed in pre-WWI outfits, but also playing videogames and, at times, decked out in full Christopher St. circa Cruising leather; the completely unmotivated yellow and blue color saturation. And the tushies. Lots and lots of tushies. Other formal spanners in the works include THREE different eye-of-God commentators. One, at least, is within the world of the film — the ship’s captain droning into a tape recorder. Another, a deep-voiced, flat and very masculine voice rambling about all sorts of platitudes (and slipping, occasionally, into heavy obscenity.) The third, and most entertaining, the frequent fades to white set to etherial vocal music as quotes from Plutarch and others are displayed, allegedly shedding insight into the characters. Then there is the main character, Querelle, not very sympathetic, with a lazy, mid-atlantic accent, trying to act tough (but hard to look it with a dopey white French sailor’s beret replete with red pom-pom on.) All told, a fascinating presentation (I didn’t mention the West Side Story-esque knife fights) and if you like a lot of sodomy in your movies, this one is definitely a rental for you!
May 31, 2010
November 13, 2010
November 15, 2008
Jordan Hoffman is a New York-based writer and film critic working for The Guardian, Vanity Fair, Thrillist, Times of Israel, NY Daily News and elsewhere.
He is the host of ENGAGE: The Official Star Trek Podcast, a member of the New York Film Critics Circle and challenges you to a game of backgammon.