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Film Review - Stranger By The Lake

19/02/2014 15:57 GMT | Updated 21/04/2014 10:59 BST

An intelligent psychological thriller with a Hitchcockian feel. Alain Guiraudie's assured direction results in a seductive, powerful, menacing and fascinating film. Sexually explicit but not provocative - it isn't about sex, but rather about the complications and dangers that anonymous sex can lead to.

STRANGER BY THE LAKE

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Director: Alain Guiraudie Cast: Pierre Deladonchamps, Christophe Paou, Patrick d'Assumcao. Jerome Chappatte Genre: Drama Thriller Country of Origin: France 2013 Language: French with English subtitles 93 mins. Rating:****

Official Selection UnCertain Regard 2013 Cannes International Film Festival, Winner Best Director, Queer Palm 2013 Winner

'Stranger by the Lake' (L'Inconnu du Lac) is a tense psychological drama of love, passion and anonymity set in a cruising spot for gay men on the shores of a picturesque lake in Provence, southern France. Franck (Pierre Deladonchamps) a handsome romantic young male in his thirties spends his summer days cruising the beach and has formed a platonic relationship with Henri (Patrick d'Assumcao), an affable, grumpy overweight lonely divorcee who's isolated from the rest of the beach community but things change when Franck falls in love with the sexy and mysterious Michel (Christophe Paou) . Desire turns to unease when he witnesses an act of violence that becomes the centrepiece of the film. The realisation that he's being drawn into a web of murder, mystery and fear doesn't dampen Franck's desire for Michel - this is a relationship he must have whatever the cost.

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Sexually explicit but not provocative, it's an intelligent precisely directed exploration of gay desire. It isn't about sex, but rather about the complications and dangers that anonymous sex can lead to and beyond the sexual drive the desire for understanding, commitment and love .

Well received when premiered at Cannes, 'Stranger by the Lake' has a Hitchcockian feel - menacing, thrilling, powerful and seductive. Alain Guiraudie's assured direction, Jean-Christophe Hym's editing and Claire Mathon's cinematography results in a psychologically menacing and fascinating film that captures the essence of gay sexuality set against the wondrous backdrop of a beautiful but lethal lake in southern France. An AIDS metaphore ?

It will probably be labelled a 'gay film' which would be unfortunate as such an assured work deserves to be seen by a wider audience.

STRANGER BY THE LAKE is released by PECCADILLO PICTURE 21st February 2014 in selected UK cinemas