Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Stranger by the Lake (L'Inconnu Du Lac)

The lake in question is the summertime meeting place of like-minded males where they can converse, swim and lie in the sun naked. Behind the beech area is enclosed woodland that divides the shoreline from a car park. It's this woodland that is used for more intimate pleasures of the flesh. Our main protagonist, Franck (Pierre Deladaonchamps), is young and good-looking who enjoys spending the warm summer days cruising and reclining in the sun. It's here he meets two very different men the first is Henri (Patrick d'Assumcao) a lonely overweight ‘logger’ whose wife has left him and who just wants to spend his three week vacation in the peace and quite of the lakeside setting. But he strikes up a plutonic relationship with the young gay, learning a little about what motivates their desires. The second man is a good looking tanned swimming champion called Michel (Christophe Paou) who Franck is sexually attracted to from the moment he sets eyes on him. Their affair, like the film itself, never leaves the confines of the Lake/woodland/car park. Life around the lake is peaceful, almost pastoral, a watercolour of a gay micro world, that is until the body of a drowned man is discovered. Police Inspector Damroder suspects fail play and begins to question the men that use the area. Both Franck and Henri suspect that Michel, who had sex with the dead man the day before he disappeared, knows more about the incident than he's admitting to the police. 
Franck with Henri....

....and with the new love in his life Michel.

Our story takes place over a period of ten days. The cinematography certainly makes the Lakeland area seem very appealing and the director Alain Guiraudie, who won both the directors prize in Un Certain Regard and the Queer Palm at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, keeps the concept very simple by making the action take place in one basic location. Using natural light and sounds we are not side tracked by a musical score but allowed to indulge our selves totally with the sights and sound’s depicted on the screen, which in them selves became quite natural. This psychological drama is refreshingly honest in its depiction of gay sex and cruising and offers us a different type of erotic arthouse thriller with its dream like murder sequence: have we or have we not just witnessed the cold blooded murder of an innocent? Is lust a stronger emotion than fear? It's this question that forms the basis of the movie; if Michel does turn out to be a killer will Franck be strong enough to resist his obsessive love?
Nine of the ten days starts in the car park! 

My only grumble is that the natural light used for the night scenes at the car park are very dark and therefore make it difficult to see what's going on, but perhaps that's the way the director meant it to be?

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