Stranger By the Lake

Pierre Deladonchamps, Christophe Paou

Directed by Alain Guiraudie
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 3
Community: star rating
5 3 0
January 23, 2014

Guys cruise each other by an idyllic lake in summer. Gay porn? That's an eye of the beholder decision since blowjobs and jizz figure in the action. But Stranger By the Lake, making overt the gay subtext in Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train and North By Northwest, is at heart an erotic thriller of devilish twists and turns. Far from gender specific, this French spellbinder, sparked with wicked humor and intimations of homicide, speaks to universal rules of attraction. Writer-director Alain Guiraudie lets his camera watch idly as naked men sunbathe and hottie Franck (Pierre Deladonchamps) strips for a swim. Out of the water, Franck chats casually with Henri (Patrick D'Assumcao), chubby, fully clothed and not his type. His eye is caught by Michel (Christophe Paou in a Freddy Mercury moustache), a stranger he follows into the woods. Michel is already sexually occupied, but over the next few days Franck hooks up with Michel to the point of obsession. From a distance, Franck sees Michel drown another lover. But his obsession never abates, even when an inspector (Jerome Chappatte) shows up looking for a killer. What happens next is for you to discover. Guiraudie never uses music or dialogue to punch up his themes. The meaning comes in pure cinematic terms. Like his characters, Guiraudie is walking a tightrope, finding the point where sex and death exude a similar allure. You won't be able to look away.

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