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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

'Stranger by the Lake': An Audaciously Candid French Thriller Steeped in Seduction and Danger

Movie poster for the 2013 French thriller Stranger by the Lake (L'Inconnu du Lac)

Stranger by the Lake (L'Inconnu du Lac) (2013) is an audacious and seductive French thriller starring Pierre Deladonchamps as Franck, a young gay man living in Provence in southeastern France. Frack frequents the nude beach and wooded area adjacent to the Lake of Sainte-Croix, cruising for casual sex amongst the gay populace before becoming dangerously enamored with an alluring stranger named Michel (Christophe Paou).

Indulging in the spirit of summertime carousal, Franck engages in a heated affair with the mysterious Michael while befriending Henri (Patrick d'Assumçao), an older man in search of solitude. Henri warns Franck that Michael is a suspect in a recent murder, yet Franck is unable to resist Michael's allure. As police Inspecteur Damroder (Jérôme Chappatte) intervenes in search of clues to the drowning of another man, Franck covers for Michael in a desperate attempt to safeguard his cherished paramour.

Written and directed by French filmmaker Alain Guiraudie (Staying Vertical), Stranger by the Lake" is a captivating tale of perilous desire. Guiraudie affects a darkly hedonistic allure, while Deladonchamps impresses as the wide-eyed and impulsive Franck—blinded by his own passions and ultimately handicapped by his insecurities. Steeped in sensuality imbued with a foreboding sense of ambivalence, it delivers as both an earnest character study and titillating suspense story—capped by a finale of haunting (and precarious) uncertainty.


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