Stranger by the Lake asks how far are you willing to go?

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Christophe Paou and Pierre Deladonchamps in a scene from Alain Guiraudie's Stranger by the Lake.

While the lesbian drama Blue is the Warmest Colour may have stolen much of the French-cinema limelight this past year, filmmaker Alain Guiraudie’s Stranger by the Lake is no less note-worthy.

A homoerotic Hitchcockian thriller, Stranger by the Lake not only won a directing prize and the Queer Palm award at Cannes in 2013, but was also named best film of the year by Cahiers du Cinéma, France’s premiere film critic magazine.

Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 95% rating based on the reviews from 78 critics in a site consensus that reads: “sexy, smart, and darkly humorous, Stranger by the Lake offers rewarding viewing for adult filmgoers in search of thought-provoking drama.”

Guiraudie’s slow-burning, tightly-structured exploration of desire and danger is set over ten days at a lakeside cruising spot for gay men. There, protagonist Franck falls for moustachioed, possibly lethal Michel, while also befriending Henri, a portly, middle-aged man uncertain of his sexuality.

Christophe Paou and Pierre Deladonchamps in a scene from Alain Guiraudie's Stranger by the Lake.

Christophe Paou and Pierre Deladonchamps in a scene from Alain Guiraudie’s Stranger by the Lake.

Occasionally sexually explicit, always matter-of-fact about nudity, eroticism, and hedonism, in an interview with Slant earlier this year, Guiraudie said that his film seeks to answer a simple question: “just how far am I willing to go to live and experience what I want, and be satisfied?”

Stranger by the Lake receives its Vancouver premiere this month at The Cinematheque.  Visit http://www.thecinematheque.ca for more information.

Mark Robins on Google+

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