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Stranger by the Lake (2013)

L'inconnu du lac (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, Romance, Thriller | 12 June 2013 (France)
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Summertime. A cruising spot for men, tucked away on the shores of a lake. Franck falls in love with Michel, an attractive, potent and lethally dangerous man. Franck knows this but wants to live out his passion anyway.

Director:

Alain Guiraudie

Writer:

Alain Guiraudie
18 wins & 39 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Pierre Deladonchamps ... Franck
Christophe Paou ... Michel
Patrick d'Assumçao Patrick d'Assumçao ... Henri (as Patrick D'Assumçao)
Jérôme Chappatte Jérôme Chappatte ... Inspecteur Damroder
Mathieu Vervisch Mathieu Vervisch ... Eric
Gilbert Traina Gilbert Traina ... L'homme du mardi soir (as Gilbert Traïna)
Emmanuel Daumas Emmanuel Daumas ... Philippe
Sébastien Badachaoui Sébastien Badachaoui ... Le mari d'Eric
Gilles Guérin Gilles Guérin ... L'homme à femmes
François-Renaud Labarthe François-Renaud Labarthe ... Pascal Ramière (as François Labarthe)
Claude Bellelle Claude Bellelle ... Un naturiste
Slawomir Cieminski Slawomir Cieminski ... Un naturiste
Jean-Marie Crémier Jean-Marie Crémier ... Un naturiste
Bernard Delavaux Bernard Delavaux ... Un naturiste
Bernard German Bernard German ... Un naturiste
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Storyline

Franck, a fit gay man, seeks love at a lakeside gay cruising beach. Among the mostly pudgy nude sunbathers, he befriends Henri, a depressed middle-aged bi-sexual who enjoys the quiet but accepts Franck's company. When Michel appears, Franck finally spots a man he'd like to know sexually. Unfortunately, he also spots him drowning his gay lover but opts not to tell anyone in order to consider having a relationship with this handsome yet remorseless killer. Written by statmanjeff

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Best Director, Un Certain Regard at Cannes


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Les Films du Losange

Country:

France

Language:

French

Release Date:

12 June 2013 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

El desconocido del lago See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$27,599, 26 January 2014, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$324,891, 4 May 2014
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The finished film features only two hard core shots. The film initially had many more hard core shots but director Alain Guiraudie decided during editing that he did not want the film to become about that and the sex to become ostentatious, so he limited the hardcore shots to only two in the finished film. See more »

Quotes

Franck: [smitten by Michel] I really like him.
Henri: [warily] He does have a nice body.
Franck: It's typical. The guys I like are always taken.
See more »

Connections

Featured in At the Movies: Cannes Film Festival 2013 (2013) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A remarkable allegory of modern alienation
26 May 2014 | by Buddy-51See all my reviews

Franck (Pierre Deladonchamps) spends the summer frequenting an all-male nude beach where men come to sunbathe and to engage in casual sex in the woods nearby. One quiet evening, he secretly witnesses a man, Michel (Christophe Paou), whom he briefly met earlier in the day, drown another young man, perhaps his lover, in the lake. Despite this knowledge, Franck finds himself so intensely and inexplicably drawn to the killer that he establishes a relationship and quickly begins falling in love with him.

Laced with highly-charged erotic undertones, "Stranger By the Lake" is a low-keyed, multi-leveled thriller whose dark and disturbing themes simmer beneath a deceptively simple surface. The sex is certainly graphic in its depiction - no simulation going on here, folks - but it is germane to the storytelling and integral to the theme.

Written and directed by Alain Guiraudie, this psycho-sexual chiller achieves an uber-creepy tone without resorting to a single cliché associated with the overworked genre. Heck, there isn't even any music to helpfully alert us to the story's moments of greatest intensity. The movie creates suspense through the observation of character rather than through overt action or violence, with the placidity of the setting placed in stark relief against the grimness of the crime.

Except for the fact that it's in color, "Stranger By the Lake" has much of the look and feel of an early Michelangelo Antonioni film, what with its languid pacing, the artful minimalism of its shots, and the obliqueness of its storytelling and characters. In fact, what's most disturbing about the characters is their seemingly utter detachment not only from the society around them but from their own emotions and any semblance of a moral code. They seem to float freely about in a world of their own making, one in which they live only for the absorption of the moment and in which they are cut off completely from any meaningful human connection. In a way, casual sex is merely an external manifestation of the much more serious underlying condition of angst and alienation (a favorite theme of Antonioni's work, in fact) that's come to define their mode of living and, by extension, much of modern society itself. But is it really possible for an individual to remain that detached from everyone and everything, or is that just a pose designed to keep us from having to actively engage in life with all its attended complications and messiness?

Guiraudie raises the question, then leaves it up to the audience to come up with its own answer. For that is the way with "Stranger By the Lake." It disturbs us in so many different ways, while at the same time refusing to spoon-feed us or to play to our expectations as so many movies routinely do. It assumes that we are mature enough to handle both its raw sexuality and its super-dark vision of the world. And, for that alone, any true movie-lover should be immensely grateful.


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