Review: Stranger By The Lake (2014)

Stranger By The Lake

Lust, sex, violence and death coalesce superbly in French director Alain Guiraudie’s tense, unnerving and erotically-charged thriller Stranger By The Lake. Franck (Pierre Deladonchamps) spends his summer lapping up the sun and sea at a cruising hotspot, where he strikes up a harmless friendship with hermit Henri (Patrick D’Assumçao) and becomes infatuated with Michel (Christophe Paou), an attractively inscrutable stranger who he soon discovers to be more than he bargained for. Set entirely in and around a remote lakeside locale (shot to understated perfection by cinematographer Claire Mathon) that acts as both a contrast and an instigator to the more sinister undercurrents at play, Stranger By The Lake starts out abstruse, yet quickly morphs into a taut thriller – one that builds tension to an incredible scale through repetition, claustrophobia and the murky whys and therefore’s of the characters and their individual desires. It’s rough around the edges (sex and nudity, at first, are used too excessively, as if to make a point more than anything else), but in such a way that ups the ante far more than weakens it. The end, too, is extraordinary.

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