By Rene Rodriguez rrodriguez@MiamiHerald.com
Picking up where the New Queer Cinema icons of the 1990s left off (Gregg Araki, Todd Haynes, Derek Jarman), writer-director Alain Guiraudie’s Stranger by the Lake makes no concession to straight audiences in its exploration of the culture of homosexual promiscuity and carnal male-on-male desire. The movie is filled with graphic sex scenes that leave nothing to the imagination — this film would make even John Waters blush — but there’s more at work here than shock value and sensationalism.
The story is set entirely on a secluded sliver of beautiful beach where men sunbathe in the nude and cruise the surrounding bushes for random hook-ups. One of them, the young Franck (Pierre Deladonchamps), is an amiable fellow who befriends a straight, middle-aged man (Patrick D’Assumcao) who is lonely and enjoys their casual conversations. Mostly, though, Franck frequents the beach for anonymous sex, and Guiraudie uses wide angles and precise framings to allow us to take in the natural beauty of the lake in its entirety, rendering his protagonists as small figures on a large canvas.
Cast: Pierre Deladonchamps, Christophe Paou, Patrick D’Assumcao, Francois Labarthe, Jerome Chappatte.
Writer-director: Alain Guiraudie.
Producers: Sylvie Pialat.
A Strand Releasing release. Running time: 100 minutes. In French with English subtitles. Vulgar language, considerable nudity, graphic sex, strong adult themes. Not suitable for viewers under 17. In Miami-Dade only: O Cinema Wynwood, Miami Beach Cinematheque.