TIFF 2013: Stranger by the Lake (Alain Guiraudie, FRA)

Stranger by the Lake is an aptly minimalistic contribution to the realm of queer cinema, its noirish account of one Franck’s (Pierre Deladonchamps) day-to-day exploits at a local lakeside cruisers’ retreat ringing much more than adequately entertaining. Casually socializing with a newcomer (Patrick d’Assumçao) in between bouts of achieved sexual gratification, Franck soon becomes infatuated with ’70s porn lookalike Michel (Christophe Paou), such an obvious likeness doing nothing to quell the former’s burgeoning love for the mysterious if deadly sinister enigma.

Putting aside my crass bit of characterization, let it be know that Stranger by the Lake is assured if divisive filmmaking at its finest. Always hinging on the viewers’ opinion of Franck’s affected moral conscience, the film’s obvious but effective commentary on love and lust trumping the protagonist’s fuels the fire regularly. Repeating shots of day-to-day occurrences – parking his car, traipsing through the woods – hammer home his ceaseless eagerness to rendezvous with his lover-inhabited oasis, all while especially confining the film to a well-rounded, intendedly consistent atmosphere to allow the narrative to unfold without a semblance of unevenness.

Continuing to strike gold with a decided absence of mood-influencing score and a knockout, moreover appealingly dynamic supporting character, Stranger by the Lake‘s illustration of its central character’s calamitous moral quandary is quite the modest triumph. Deliberate pacing and presentation achieve a desired overall feel while emphasizing more startling, agreeably game-changing occurrences that contribute valuably to its genre-influenced tendencies, thus affirming my classification of it as best-of-festival material. Put plainly, Guiraudie’s creative adroitness is too impressive to ignore.


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