Cruising ★★★½

Repression is deadly.

Not quite the back alley grime procedural I'd been dreaming of, mostly because it only spends about 35 minutes in back alleys and leather clubs, but it's still a fascinating look at an America that didn't know what the fuck to do when queer culture was visible and loud and proud. What makes this bracing (and what probably shocked contemporary critics more than anything) is that it's ultimately about Pacino's sexual awakening. Does it present that awakening as dangerous? Sure, but that's less due to a fear of gay sexuality and more due to a fear of a society that encourages violence and suppression toward it. Pacino has one moment of open vulnerability, and it's when he's finally done with the job, now awake but with no way to live. I wish we could see the 40 minutes of cut footage, despite its supposed removal of ambiguity, just so we could sit in these clubs more, normalising them just as Pacino becomes accustomed.

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