Adelaide Film Festival 2013 – The Stranger by the Lake

This film, like the naïve protagonist Franck (Pierre Deladonchamps), is languorous, seductive, very nice to look at but a little bit confusing.

A French film which caused a significant stir at Cannes in 2013 (largely due to significant amount of non-simulated sex), The Stranger by the Lake focusses on the ‘cruising’ scene for gay men during a summer near a beautiful and secluded lake. Franck’s life appears to be one long, endless party of going to the spot by the lake, meeting men (often strangers) and having carefree, careless sex with them – until he meets the devastatingly handsome Michel (Christophe Paou) and becomes instantly obsessed by him. Although Michel is ‘taken’, Franck observes him one night at the lake drowning his handsome young lover. Whilst deeply conflicted about the morality of the object of his affections, Franck quickly develops an emotional and physical connection with the mysterious Michel. But will Franck’s fate be the same as Michel’s dead former lover?

Mostly a very successful psychological thriller, this film unravels significantly in the last thirty minutes, with what can only be described as an unprompted descent into Hollywood hyperbole. Moreover, the frequency and explicitness of the sex portrayed in the film (whilst obviously necessary for the storyline) is overall excessive, giving the film an air of a serious-thriller-cum-porn movie. Not one for the faint-hearted.

*Second screening Thursday 17 October at 9.30pm


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