L’Inconnu du lac (Stranger by the Lake, 2013)

NEW RELEASE FILM REVIEW || Director/Writer Alain Guiraudie | Cinematographer Claire Mathon | Starring Pierre Deladonchamps, Christophe Paou | Length 92 minutes | Seen at Shortwave Cinema, London, Saturday 1 March 2014 || My Rating 3.5 stars very good

© Les Films du Losange

There are a bunch of observations you could make about this film upon watching its first half-hour, and then there’s a bunch of stuff that comes later on. Most obvious is that the setting of the film, by the lake of the title, is the film’s only location. The dialogue sometimes mentions things that happen elsewhere, but for the most part, these characters’ lives are defined by the time they spend sunning themselves on the rocky shores of this French lake in summer, enjoying one another’s company in the wooded area behind, and pulling into and out of the car park off the main road. The other early observation is that the characters are all gay men and spend most of their time entirely naked, to the point where the film’s signature shot has the camera positioned near the water’s edge, looking up at these men as they lay back and check one another out. But it’s just one of the repeated shots that suggest a languorous mood of possibility — which becomes one of threat as the film progresses.

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