wed 24/07/2024

DVD: Stranger by the Lake | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Stranger by the Lake

DVD: Stranger by the Lake

Strong, chilling French thriller that also happens to be 'gay'

Pierre Dalndonchamps is the empathetic protagonist in Stranger by the Lake

Miss this “gay” film at your peril - a thriller with a stronger story than most. Directed and written by Alain Guiraudie (King of Escape), Stranger at the Lake’s a stealthy ineluctable drama that draws the audience in as few other films can, with explicit nudity and sex integral to its unfolding.

A gay cruising lake is the solo setting where Franck (Pierre Dalndonchamps) goes to socialise and have casual sex. Out of shape, older bloke Henri (Patrick D'Assumçao) becomes his friend and a kind of Greek chorus, outlining the film’s subtext. It is Michel (Christophe Paou) who attracts attention as the moustached idol of the beach – the guy who can get any guy with a nod of his head. When one of the other beach attendees drowns, the police suspect foul play.

Fascinating not only for its unusual nudity and extremely graphic depictions of gay sex, Stranger by the Lake shows how the erotic signals work in the woods near the beach, how sex and love intermingle in this setting and, ultimately, how each person there handles loneliness and love. Performances by the actors are seamlessly intercut with body doubles for the more graphic sex scenes: all players are subtle and exquisitely natural in their roles. Wonderfully shot by cinematographer Claire Mathon, the deliberate pace and idyllic single setting mesh with exemplary character development to form an ideal, almost textbook example of engaging an audience. Running at 93 lean minutes, this is the kind of creepy, scary, atmospheric film Hitchcock would have been proud to make - one that rewards the audience. Stranger by the Lake is one of the best films of the year: too bad its “gay” label will prevent many from seeing it.

The DVD features an alternative ending, deleted scenes and two shorts by the director, plus cast interviews, poster and Cannes festival information.

This is the kind of creepy, scary, atmospheric film Hitchcock would have been proud to make


Editor Rating: 
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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