Alain Guiraudie’s bracing thriller, set at a gay cruising spot in rural southeast France, follows a simple structure: The film unfolds over 10 consecutive summer days, its action confined to the lake and the nearby grove where sex is sought. Yet Stranger by the Lake abounds with precision and detail, evinced not just in the spectacular visual compositions but also in the observation of behavioral codes in carnally charged spaces. When boyish, handsome lake regular Franck (Pierre Deladonchamps) spots a beautiful, muscular figure emerging from the water, he’s instantly electrified by this Adonis—an attraction that remains undiminished even after Franck sees him drown his lover. The murder, in fact, seems to arouse Franck even more; two days after the crime, he and the homicidal stud—named, we eventually learn, Michel (Christophe Paou)—all but devour each other, in al fresco sex scenes filmed matter-of-factly. That all this erotic abandon takes place amid such natural splendor only adds to the sense that this lakeside spot is a gay paradise. Yet Guiraudie deftly complicates the notion of total sexual freedom, reminding us of the potential damages of unchecked hedonism.
A stunning minimalist erotic thriller that explores with arresting photography and economical use of dialogue how human identity is defined, and sometimes imprisoned, by our desires, drives, and passions.
—Tirdad Derakhshani, Philadelphia Inquirer
A simple and ruthlessly effective exercise in minimal narrative and style, Alain Guiraudie’s moral tale is so restrained and atmospheric that the nudity and graphic sex don’t upstage the creepy mood of seductive, inescapable doom.
—Peter Keough, Boston Globe
Frank: Pierre Deladonchamps
Michel: Christophe Paou
Henri: Patrick D’Assumçao
Queer Palm Award and Un Certain Regard Best Director – Cannes Film Festival (2013)
RUNNING TIME 97 min
PRODUCTION France, 2013
FORMAT(S) DCP, Blu-ray, and DVD
$300 negotiable upon format
*Fees for screening rights are negotiable and may depend on: format, size of screening room, whether admission will be charged, etc. Check with each distributor and make sure to mention your participation in Tournées in your negotiation.