Stranger By The Lake

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Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

"The investigation has a surreal aspect to it that stretches credulity while the final resolution seems unsatisfactorily far-fetched."

Film festival audiences have become inured to graphic sexuality that some may feel borders on hardcore pornography. Ten years ago, the sight of an ejaculating penis, fully-flexed male intercourse and copious nudity would have caused a flurry of walk-outs at the very least.

The screening of the new film by Alain Guiraudie who made The King Of Escape about a gay man succumbing to heterosexual temptation, passed without incident, which says much for the persuasive power of the imagery and the frank exploration of gay passion, desire and physicality.

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Guiraudie sets up a triangle at a lakeside cruising spot between the sweetly handsome Franck (Pierre Deladonchamps) with his swimmer's physique, the buffed object of his desire Michel (Christophe Paou, looking like a young Tom Selleck) and Henri (Patrick D’Assumcao), a chubby and melancholic middle aged man who regularly sits on his own far away from the naked sunbathers and their activities in the woods. Michel and Henri, who has traditional values and has recently been divorced, strike up a mutually dependent relationship which has nothing to do with sex.

Love and passion, the director suggests, can be uplifting but his main aim was to examine the emotions of being in love with the "obscenity" of sex.

Franck seems to be turned on by danger when he sees Michel drown a previous partner far out in the lake as dusk falls. He may be scared but he's also intrigued by the heightened attraction the act gives Michel. The younger man wants more - but his promiscuous partner says that having sex does not mean that "they have to have dinner."

The film shifts gear when a police inspector (Jerome Chappatte) arrives to question the habitués of the beach about the body that turns up in the lake. The investigation has a surreal aspect to it that stretches credulity while the final resolution seems unsatisfactorily far-fetched.

It is lushly shot in widescreen by Claire Mathon with astute use of natural sounds and lighting.

The graphic nature of much of the coupling will, of course, make it an awkward proposition for anything other than a very restricted theatrical release if it survives the scrutiny of classification boards.

Reviewed on: 17 May 2013
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After a shocking incident takes place at a cruising spot, a young man is caught in the throes of a dangerous passion.
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Director: Alain Guiraudie

Starring: Stone Ladonchamps, Patrick Assumçao, Christophe Paou

Year: 2013

Runtime: 92 minutes

Country: France


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