Stranger By The Lake (2013)

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Murder amongst French lovers at a gay nude beach

If you’ve ever wished Hitchcock had set one of his masterful thrillers at a gay nude beach, Stranger by the Lake is the movie for you. I don’t think I’ve ever consciously wished that, but I still loved Stranger, a slow-burn mystery from France, equal parts bizarre and beautiful and weirdly hilarious. Upfront warning: it’s extremely graphic, featuring plenty of shots of butt-licking, blowjobs, and even an on-screen ejaculation. I realize that’s kind of a deal-breaker for many, but the fact that those hardcore scenes coexist here with gorgeous nature cinematography and subtle, nuanced performances is emblematic of this film’s intriguing oddness.

And despite the sex and murder, Stranger is actually very restrained, at times frustratingly so. It’s a minimalist exercise, right down to a haunting ending that shows little but suggests a great deal: namely, that we are all just groping in the dark, lost and frightened, pausing only to occasionally fuck and kill one another.

Author: Ted Pillow

Ted Pillow writes. He tweets @TedPillow.

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