gif: stranger by the lake

Stuff About "Stranger By The Lake"

Stranger By The Lake
Written and Directed By: Alain Guiraudie
Starring: Pierre Deladonchamps, Christophe Paou, Patrick d’ Assumcao, Jerome Chappatte
Opens: September 30 (New York Film Festival)

1. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I have always had a bit of a hard time giving proper credit to a film that genuinely arouses me. Much in the same way that I know certain critics distrust a movie that makes them cry, I am reflexively wary of a movie that is able to be sexy by showing me actual sex. Yes, I react to that, but how hard (ugh, sorry) does one have to work to get that reaction? A lot of times I end up just sort of shrugging my shoulders and stop engaging with the movie, deeming it “sexy” and focusing on other things rather than grappling with what the sex scenes are accomplishing. I really don’t want that to happen with Stranger By The Lake, not only because I think it’s a very good movie that uses its sexuality quite well, but also because there are so many sex scenes that it would be difficult (there we go) to discuss much without them.

2. It’d be silly to say that the explicit, often non-simulated gay sex scenes in this movie aren’t intentionally provocative. Not exactly trying to freak out the squares – I don’t think a movie like this has many illusions as to who their audience will be – but purposefully bracing. There’s the verisimilitude at play, with the setting being a secluded lake frequented by a semi-regular group of gay Frenchmen for cruising, but also for reasons of theme and plot. The latter revolves around a man who spots his intended apparently drowning another man in the lake late at night. He pursues this ostensible murderer anyway, opening himself up to all kinds of danger. On the surface, it’s very stupid, this insane risk for an unworthy man. That’s where the hyperfocus on sensuality comes in. In its up-close images, the film makes a persuasive case for why desire has us constantly opening ourselves up for all kinds of damage, and we do so willingly.

3. For as sexy as the film is, it’s not myopic either. Even in the rather closed community it presents, there is a consistent effort to see the whole picture, with shot after shot taking in the whole beach, always an active ecosystem in its own right.

4. By far, the part of the film that most enthralled – and surprised – me was the non-sexual relationship that develops between main-character Franck and avowed observer Henri. It’s light years away from the porno-worthy body pairing of Franck and murderer Michel, but even before the notion of companionship arises between them in the story, there is an undeniable charge between them. It’s unlikely and subterranean and rather riveting, proving that it’s not just murder plots that can get the pulse racing.

5. I said it on Twitter in jest, but honestly: all this sex in the tall grass had me absolutely fixated on how how many of these guys end up with ticks. Not to mention the insanely rocky beach that they’re constantly laying out on. The course of true cruising never did run smooth, did it?


top five films released theatrically in the US, January thru March

01. Stranger by the Lake [L'inconnu du lac] (Alain Guiraudie, 2013) [01/24]
02. A Field in England (Ben Wheatley, 2013) [02/07]
03. Jodorowsky’s Dune (Frank Pavich, 2013) [03/21]
04. Gloria (Sebastián Lelio, 2013) [01/24]
05. Nymphomaniac: Vol. I (Lars von Trier, 2013) [03/21]

also seen in the first quarter of 2014: Interior. Leather Bar. (James Franco and Travis Mathews, 2013), The Rocket (Kim Mordaunt, 2013)