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The stranger at the lake

The stranger at the lake

Frankreich 2012 - mit Pierre Deladonchamps, Christophe Paou, Patrick D`Assumçao, Jérome Chappatte ...

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Originaltitel:L`Inconnu du Lac
Regie:Alain Guiraudie
Produktionsland:Frankreich 2012
Laufzeit:Ca. 100 min.
FSK:From 16 years
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Franck (Pierre Deladonchamps) comes again and again to the picturesque lake in the south of France this midsummer. The remote location is a popular cruising spot where gay men meet to relax or have fun in the adjoining forest. Here Franck meets not only the special Henri (Patrick D`Assumçao), who always sits a bit outside and seems to be very grateful for friendly conversations. He also meets the charismatic Michel (Christophe Paou), who fascinated Franck from the very first moment. Although he observes something that should make it clear to him that Michel can be an extremely dangerous contemporary, he enters into a passionate relationship with the attractive man. When the body of a seemingly drowned man is found near the Cruising Spots and the police break into the idyll, Franck should actually retreat. But he simply cannot escape the attraction Michel exerts on him…

With "Der Fremde am See" director Alain Guiraudie was able to inspire at the Cannes Film Festival and was awarded the prize for Best Director in the series "Un Certain Regard". In fact, Guiraudie's production gives the film a very special atmosphere, which lies somewhere between fascinating and threatening. The place where the entire film takes place is a deceptive idyll. Although the director Franck's arrival here is repeated in the best "And daily greets the groundhog" manner in an almost identical setting and which almost radiates a certain monotony, the oppressive mood increases with each of his visits to the lake. The complete renunciation of film music and the overall very unagitated narrative style intensify this impression even further.

Whether the film would have needed the very explicit sex scenes, remains to be seen. The fact is, however, that the movie wouldn't have lost any of its atmosphere if Guiraudie had been a bit more subtle. Even if the whole thing has still been artistically realized in its realism, oral intercourse or sexual highlights shown in every detail do not have to be in order to express lust and passion of a particularly intense kind. Since the drama doesn't have just a few such scenes ready, you should be very open to such an explicit portrayal in order to appreciate the actual qualities of "Der Fremde am See".

These are especially rooted in the first half of the movie, in which the story is established in a very stirring way, even though not much really happens. However, this is where the already mentioned atmosphere comes into play, which makes it clear to the viewer that it's worth following the action through the calm waters. And indeed, the old wisdom that still waters can sometimes be very deep is soon proven again. Unagitated and with a light pinch of dry humor, mixed with a constant threat and a tension-producing ignorance on the part of the audience, "Der Fremde am See" really reveals itself to be a very special movie in the first hour.

Towards the end, however, the whole thing becomes a bit ordinary and the tension that Alain Guiraudie has so carefully built up degenerates more and more into cultivated boredom. Surely anyone who appreciates French arthouse fare of a special kind will not be bothered by the rather weak conclusion of the story. All in all, however, the last third once again clearly underlines that "Der Fremde am See" is only made for a niche audience that is not bothered by explicit sex scenes (whether of a homosexual or heterosexual nature) or by a somewhat bulky staging style. And for such an audience the following also applies: Worth seeing!

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  • The stranger at the lake
  • The stranger at the lake
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