Synopsis: It's summer time at a secluded, lake-side, gay cruising spot . Franck (Pierre Deladonchamp) falls in love with Michel (Christoph Paou) even though he knows he is dangerous.
Stan's thoughts: When the 18 certificate was displayed with the words 'for real sex' I thought they were kidding, real looking sex is what they meant. No, they didn't. I wasn't surprised by what I was seeing, more by the fact that it was being shown in a mainstream cinema. (If you thought Blue Is The Warmest Colour was racy, this makes that look like a Barbara Cartland made-for-TV film.)
The problem is that it becomes a bit of a distraction to what is an interesting story. The relationship between Franck and Michel and the behaviour of this gay community when terrible things happen in their midst is what really drives the narrative. That and the growing sense of danger and unease.
All the full frontal nudity and sex in all shapes and forms starts feeling a bit over done in the same way that the orgy/partying scenes in Wolf of Wall Street start feeling over done. When you've seen one blow job/hand job etc, do you really need to see it again and again and again to get the point?
Director/writer Alain Guiraudie's relaxed shooting style is to be admired, in fact it is so relaxed that there are no Hollywood-style flattering angles. Naturalistic is certainly a word you could use to describe this film. Likewise the etiquette and behaviour at cruising spots is, I am told, very well observed.
Stranger By The Lake feels like a really interesting story that has been overly sexed up and I think the shame is that a lot of people will go and see it for the latter when there is much else of merit. When I sat down at the early Sunday morning screening a couple of weeks ago I was surprised by quite how busy it was. Once the film started I understood.
PS It was, however, refreshing to watch an 18 film that was entirely devoid of naked lady bits for once.
- Stan's: 75%
- IMDB: 70%
- Metascore: 82%
- Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
- RT audience rating: 70%