The French thriller "Stranger by the Lake" is an unsettling mix of murder and raw sexuality, with unflinching scenes of coupling paired with moments of weird beauty.
Franck (Pierre Deladonchamps) is a young gay man looking for a hookup at a lakeshore that’s a popular cruising spot. He befriends Henri (Patrick D’Assumçao), an older gent dipping his toe in the pickup game, but his eye is really on the tanned and gorgeous Michel (Christophe Paou). When Franck witnesses Michel drowning his current lover (François Labarthe) in the lake one evening, it only increases Franck’s attraction for Michel.
‘Stranger by the Lake’
Opens Friday, May 2, at the Broadway Centre Cinemas; not rated, but definitely NC-17 for explicit gay sexuality; in French with subtitles; 101 minutes.
Writer-director Alain Guiraudie creates a slow-boiling thriller built on Franck’s pursuit of desire and his disregard for caution (he doesn’t like condoms, he tells one sex partner, which makes his reckless relationship with Michel an allegory for the AIDS threat).
The movie is explicitly graphic in its sex scenes but maddeningly oblique in its plot structure, and the sexuality that builds tension early ends up being ultimately a distraction.
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