View Full Version : Stranger by the Lake (Alain Guiraudie)

Stay Puft
01-28-2014, 05:14 AM
Dir. Alain Guiraudie

IMDb page (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2852458/)


01-28-2014, 05:49 AM
Yeah, this was real good. Takes a little while to fully build it's rhythm, but once it hits it's stride, it's gangbusters. Love the repetitions, use of sound and milieu and subtle exploration of sex and death. Strange, beautiful film, and oh so French.

Stay Puft
01-28-2014, 05:51 AM
I'd like to see this again to better unpack the experience. It can be rather opaque, though much of that by design (he floats around the edges, and yet the enigmatic Henri seems central to the entire thing).

It's an engaging experience from start to finish, though, no doubt. Patrick d'Assumšao is wonderful as Henri, and I loved every scene between him and Franck. The film's conflation of sex and death is every bit as playful as it is disturbing. Most of the sex is off screen or obscured, in typical fashion, but the film suddenly cuts to the first of two hardcore shots, completely out of the blue, and then goes straight to the murder, from orgasm to death... I also love how Henri's death is staged exactly like the earlier cruising scenes in the woods... a nice mix of cum shots and arterial sprays.

The film also works more broadly as a portrait of this specific community, thanks to the frankness of Guiraudie's direction and his attention to detail: all of the small, mundane interactions between the different members (many relationships suggested but never expanded upon), the many glances and looks, a whole range of experiences from the erotic to the pathetic, the sad to the funny, and yes of course the rampant nudity is a big part of that, too. This film is wall to wall cock and it's great. But even when hitting genre beats, Guiraudie is on fire, owing to the careful construction and repetition of shots. It's impressive how much dramatic mileage - and suspense - Guiraudie gets out of e.g. repeating Franck's arrival every day, parking his car, with how the arrangement of cars changes every day, or doesn't...

Not much more to add at the moment, without pondering over it more (and seeing it again, as I said), but yeah, certainly a finely crafted, compelling film. Recommended.

Bosco B Thug
02-03-2014, 09:52 AM
Ditto everyone.

A very deft film, if a bit inert. A text on sociability, plunging us into a world (by the lake) that simply cannot be held to the same social or moral expectations viewers normally hold and would normally place upon watching some hetero noir like another version of The Postman Always Rings Twice. The deft survey of interaction that Stay Puft mentions makes it much more about this - a look at the desperate fragments of functional sociability in a society that is forced to exist outside of reality - rather than some judgmental comment on cruising culture, or "hedonism," which I bristle at the film being reduced as.

More evidence to this: with the whole lake setting and the words of the Henri character, I think of the saying "No man is an island"... except for those hazarding, by some necessity, a life at the margins. When I said we can't hold this society to our normal social and moral views, I do not try to defend Michel, of course (who, most vilely, we can imagine living in Paris as a rich businessman with a family), but think of Franck and all the men (even the masturbator!), who are not depicted as just some hedonists; Henri, whose life is clearly sad and who willingly fraternizes with these gay men because he's heterosexual but still wound up on an island (or a lake); and also of that detective character, who struck me as a sneering hypocrite, as his job seems to have given him the right to condescend over gay men.

Henri rocked, btw.

07-02-2014, 01:59 AM
Wonderful film, and an incredibly eerie finale. There were a few times when I wanted Guiraudie to step back from the lakeside and take us into Franck's interiority more directly, but that's my misgiving, since the film clearly situates itself as only committed to the "utopia" of the lake itself. The whole angle here about sociability is powerful since these characters clearly are reaching out--especially Henri and Franck, given what the latter two know--and the film's horror is magnified when the film highlights how central longing is, so that the clear and precise logic of escape doesn't matter as much as connection in this moment.

Henri's arc was just devastating. And rather than a stinker of a "arty" final shot, this one feels wholly earned, and a part of the worldview of the film generally. Excellent.