Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini


Stranger by the Lake

Stranger by the Lake
Starring:
Pierre Deladonchamps, Patrick D'Assumcao and Christophe Paou


Rated: No rating 
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: January 24, 2014 Released by: Strand Releasing

This new bold, unhurried import from auteur and scribe Alain Guiraudie has a very satisfying thriller quality set around a sun-drenched southeastern France lakeshore (of a cruising site at a naturist beach) over a few summery weeks.

Stranger By The Lake(fully subtitled) almost could be a Hitchcock title as the subtle drama acutely locates the tension between lust and morality. Starring Pierre Deladonchamps, Patrick D'Assumcao and Christophe Paou as handsome protagonist Franck, solitary, chubby Henri, and the mysteriously striking
Michel, respectively.

An edgy allure with elegantly composed for the landscapes in cinemascope to reinforce an existentialist touch as the desires for carnal compulsive candor take a perilous, mordant turn.

From where cars are parked at versus what happens at the other side of the lake is something that will only engage the most discerning, brave cineastes as exhibitionistic explicit excitement around an atypical stereotype like Franck becomes piqued after the drowning of Michel's latest amour (Renaud Labarthe).

Guiraudie is keen to the gestures and urges for the chance of anonymous (same sex) intimacy in a public place and persuasively works from an exclusive beach and rocky lake where danger ultimately lurks.

Since the stylization is tapered down by the mundanely honest camerawork and nary any background audio accompaniment, Franck's dilemma from the aspect of human urges and death has a cogent emotional underpinning. Does he turn Michel into the continually surfacing Inspector Damroder (Jerome Chappatte) or does he engage his temptations with someone unlike Henri who is content not to visit the woods?

Some art house patrons may liken portions of Stranger By The Lake to the erotic, yet poignant Blue Is The Warmest Color acknowledging a sexual counterpoint albeit the more graphic nature of the copulation in ways that a fastidious, accomplished craftsman like Pedro Almodovar can bowled over by the austere, raw approach.

The farcical and excess are muted in favor of a naturalistic, provocative narcissism to tautly intensify minute details until a seriously, harrowing if ambiguous coda. What may be considered pornographic and way too off-putting finds a way from keeping the focus on Franck nearly throughout isn't pushy and in an unnervingly pure way a surprisingly effective example of cinematic minimalism.

  Frank Chris Jim Dave Nina Sam Howard Jennifer Kathleen  Avg. 
Stranger by the Lake        B+                     B+ 

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