Michael’s review published on Letterboxd:
Rainer Werner Fassbinder literally knew "boyfriend twins" (gay men who, having forged themselves into their ideal sexual object, proceed to date someone who appears absolutely fucking identical, if you're unfamiliar with the term) was going to be a thing in 1982 he's so powerful
I first watched Querelle four years ago. It was my first Fassbinder and I recognize now that it probably wasn't a great starting point—it built me up probably to expect a filmmaker more in line with Kenneth Anger than Douglas Sirk—but even though I didn't really fall in love with Fassbinder until last year (when I started actually watching his other movies, ending up seeing eight throughout that year) but I don't know if I ever would have loved him as much as I do now if it wasn't for this movie. I gave it four stars then because it was so odd, so confrontational and formally disruptive and more explicitly homoerotic than...most things I'd seen (still true, probably), and then all those things scared me and held me back but now I just think, y'know, give me more please. I can't imagine the kind of movies Fassbinder would've made after this had he lived.
Like all of Fassbinder's stuff, it means so much to me in a way I find impossible to articulate, it's just like ideas filtered through into a pure filmic experience. Like even with all the voice overs and title cards which you'd think would feel distinctly uncinematic, it just...doesn't. I had some thoughts floating around in my mind, kinda about sex as commodity, sex transformed from human activity to human product, about the way same gender-attracted men construct their gender identity within a society that largely defines gender around its attraction to its supposed opposite, but at the end of the day I just can't intellectualize this movie. I suspect that there's an intellectual truth at its core but I feel its emotional truth much more deeply and strongly and that's what's really important to me anyway.
The first time I watched this, it was through some deeply, erm, unofficial route and it looked kind of horrible. The HD version on the Criterion Channel is beautiful...please god Criterion please release this movie soon. The kind of fuzziness and griminess when I last saw this made it feel smuttier for sure, but I'm willing to trade that in for the style and the detail oh god it's so beautiful. And it's still pretty hot regardless. That this isn't breathlessly and universally regarded in the upper echelon of Fassbinder the way Ali and Fox are is surely because of, like, straight men, right? I'm not sure how many Fassbinder fans are even straight (I mean I'm sure they exist just most of the fellow Fassbinder hoes I've met have also been gays) but like that's gotta be it, right?