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3.4
984 Ratings

Cruising

Directed by William Friedkin
United States, West Germany, 1980
Crime, Thriller, LGBT+

Synopsis

A police detective goes undercover in the sleazy and underground gay subculture of New York City to catch a serial killer who is murdering numerous gay men with S&M tactics.

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Cruising Directed by William Friedkin

Critics reviews

Friedkin’s camera… plummets into the dimly lit S&M bars of the meat-packing district with disrespectful abandon, picking up on the odd popper-sniffing, nipple-squeezing, or public whipping as it snakes around their rooms. While his take is not as insistently apocalyptic as Gaspar Noé’s view of gay bar Rectum in Irreversible (2002!), it’s clear that Friedkin directs these environs as though he has entered into some vision of irredeemable hell.
September 04, 2012
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Subversive in form and in meaning, Cruising aspires nonetheless to be a commercial film. Its commercial failure and the cult following that has since grown up around it would suggest that it was ahead of its time, or more accurately, behind it: like Heaven’s Gate(1980) and They All Laughed (1981), it opened in the first year of Reagan’s presidency, when Hollywood was also turning back the clock after a decade of progress…
January 01, 2004
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This ambiguity is not a problem. In fact it is Cruising’s greatest strength that it can only be read if one is ready to question one’s own assumptions – as a film viewer, and as a subject within this society.
July 01, 1980
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What are people saying?

  • Jason's rating of the film Cruising

    I believe CRUISING the greatest and most important film Friedkin had made as of the time of its production and release. I understand why it upsets people. This is an instance in which I cannot hold it against them. Something left over from the legacy of the Nazis: uniformity of uniform, the male body as shrine. One might step into a uniform and assume a role the uncertain limits of which one might fail to apprehend.

  • Lights in the Dusk's rating of the film Cruising

    There's a sense that any horror felt should could from an inherent revulsion or morbid curiosity for the depiction of gay S&M. It's clear that Friedkin thinks such images are disturbing, & he presents Pacino's exploration of the subculture as a kind of descent into hell. However, if we're approaching the film without homophobia, such scenes generate only mild interest & the film loses its only pull. [Cont'd]

  • Richmond Hill's rating of the film Cruising

    A tricksy riff on genre filmmaking where one admires the tawdry chutzpah whilst not being engaged by it. The heavy gloom, articulated in dour shades of blue and heavy shadow, hardly lifts and the feeling of being stranded somewhere ambiguous and unsafe is strongly realised but ultimately depresses as most vicarious thrills do - all high and little substance. Nevertheless it has a rubbernecking appeal.

  • Nicholas Gregory's rating of the film Cruising

    If there was ever a litmus test in mainstream cinema for the open-mindedness of straight men, this is certainly it. It's not just a bleak and depressing giallo-inspired horror film, but pulls no punches in its explicitness of gay male S&M subculture. Like Pacino's character, Cruising puts your comfort level in uncharted territories. Surely more confrontational in its subversion than Friedkin's The Exorcist for many.

  • ig_____or's rating of the film Cruising

    Tiny Pacino does the best he can with a leading character that lacks development: he was undercover for the job and for the audience, since I couldn't perceive whether he was genuinely disgusted or secretly tempted by what he saw cruising the hardcore gay underworld of NY city. The killer could have been more interesting too. However, jockstraps, leather clothes, sweat and deaths were enough to keep me entertained.

  • Palmat's rating of the film Cruising

    This movie was grim and depressing as hell. The production design and style really brings the horrific murder story to life and the acting, while a bit uneven, works as well. The depiction of the gay S&M-culture seems sad, desperate and volatile which probably is a sign of the times but in hindsight it feels highly speculative. Still the movie is interesting although flawed and ambigous in its plotting.

  • Wee Hunk's rating of the film Cruising

    I think that at the time it was difficult not to see this as a representation of gay culture, because there weren't many balanced portrayals out there. Now it's easier to see it for what it was, which was just one aspect of the culture. This was back when Pacino was still an actor, and his performance is very nuanced.

  • Marcus Killerby's rating of the film Cruising

    Here's the thing about Friedkin. He is, quite simply, the greatest. Or at the very least one of the greatest. And Cruising is one of his very best films. An understated but very effective performance from Pacino coupled with some bizarre surreal sequences and profoundly affecting violence, as well as being bathed in that denim blue light that Friedkin so often employs. Influences from Giallo are clear. 5 stars

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