Stranger By The Lake, film review: Formal ingenuity and surprisingly graphic gay sex

(18) Alain Guiraudie, 100 mins Starring: Christophe Paou, Pierre Deladonchamps, Patrick D'Assumçao

Alain Guiraudie's thriller is characterised both by its formal ingenuity and its surprisingly graphic gay sex. The plotting rekindles memories both of Patricia Highsmith novels and of Hitchcock films.

Ingenuous young cruiser Franck (Pierre Deladonchamps) spends his days at a lakeside sunbathing spot where men pick up one another for trysts in the wood. He witnesses a murder but is too smitten by the killer to do anything about it. Guiraudie pays exhaustive attention to sound editing. There's no music.

Instead, he relies on the rustling of the wind or the noise of the insects and birds to create a sense of atmosphere and tension. The killing itself is shown in long shot. The director is alert to the idiosyncrasies (and comic potential) of the sub-culture he is portraying: the etiquette the men follow while picking up one another or spying on each other activities.

Only in the final reel, with its unconvincing police investigation, does the film lose its momentum.

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