Friday, November 15, 2013

The View is Nice, But Don't Go in the Water

Sex quite literally equals death in the French thriller Stranger by the Lake.  At a scenic location, nudists and gay men lounge lazily by a large lake.  When they feel frisky, they retreat to the woods in the back for some discreet fun. 

Franck cruises men almost on a daily basis.  He parks his car, unfurls his town and strips down.  He may go for a swim in the lake, but he always ends up in the tall grass looking for sex.  Franck, played by Pierre Deladonchamps, is very good looking guy.  He could probably get any man he wanted with his boyish face and tight body.  The cruising area has incredibly tall grass.  It feels like all of the men are going to get swallowed whole by this seedy gay Eden. 

After a few trips to the lake this season, Franck spies Michel, a mustached mysterious man.  When he initially goes after Michel, he finds him in the middle of an encounter and leaves.  Franck becomes obsessed with this swimmer rather quickly.  One night, when Franck lingers around in the woods, he has a clear view of the lake.  He sees Michel playfully splashing around with his boyfriend, Pierre.  As Franck watches, however, he realizes that Pierre is calling for help and Michel drowns him.  The camera doesn't move during the entire sequence, and Michel swims to shore and simply leaves.  It's chilling. 

Despite witnesses, you know, a murder, Franck embarks on a sexual relationship with Michel.  I admit that I was not prepared for how graphic this movie was going to be.  I mean, I knew there was going to be sex, but there ain't nothing simulated about this movie!  Viva La France! 

The movie is such a slow burn.  The simple setup of the movie just leaves you waiting...waiting...and I was drawn in the entire time.  I loved how Franck knew the truth, but he continued with his obviously unsafe (physically mostly but all of the above) relationship, because you don't see anything like that in movies nowadays.  Not in America, anyway.  The last moments were so tense.  I could feel everyone's apprehension as the last ten minutes rolled out.

Plus, the abundance of naked men helped.  A lot. 

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