Stranger by the Lake
When was the last time you saw an erotic thriller that worked simultaneously on both levels? Stranger by the Lake is the rare film that integrates explicit sex into an increasingly taut narrative, while also functioning as a compelling look at amour fou and a wry comedy of manners.
Alain Guiraudie’s film takes place entirely within the confines of an idyllic lakeside hideaway, where naked men sunbathe, check each other out and occasionally disappear into the bushes together. Franck (Deladonchamps) is a newcomer at the site, unwisely looking for love in this sex-charged atmosphere, and he becomes besotted with the mysterious Michel (Paou); a fixation that isn’t dampened – perhaps it’s even intensified – when he sees Michel murdering a previous lover.
Brilliantly filmed by Claire Mathon in glistening natural sunlight that gradually segues into nightmarish darkness, Stranger by the Lake is a provocative examination of homosexual desire and a first-rate work of Hitchcockian suspense. The whole film pulses with a tangible sense of danger and obsession. [Philip Concannon]