L’Inconnu Du Lac (2013)
French filmmaker Alain Guiraudie won the Un Certain Regard Best Director award and the Queer Palm at the 2013 Cannes film festival for his L’Inconnu Du Lac (English title: Stranger By The Lake), a gay subculture suspense thriller. Just as Palme d’Or winner La Vie d’Adèle – Chapitres 1 & 2 (Blue Is The Warmest Colour), L’Inconnu Du Lac is a gay/lesbian related film which features many explicit scenes and shots. It’s easy to criticize the movie for that very reason, especially for shortminded people since it features only men, but Guiraudie doesn’t show them just for pleasure: the power of sex is importanr to the plot, but you have to try hard and find a reason yourself.
All of the events of the movie take place in or around a lake for cruisers, where Franck (Pierre Deladonchamps) meets some other men for different reasons. Henri (Patrick d’Assumçao), an older recently divorced man, is becoming Franck’s friend, while the good looking Michel (Christophe Paou) quickly turns into Franck’s lover. Franck then witnesses Michel committing a terrible crime (beautifully captured by Guiraudie and his cinematographer Claire Mathon), which has an impact on their relationship, but also on the one Franck has with Henri.
Franck is in love with Michel, but his knowledge on what Michel did (Michel doesn’t know Franck has seen anything) turns their relationship into an awkward one. L’Inconnu Du Lac is a movie about lust and love, about how far somebody is willing to go to satisfy his needs and desires. Franck wants Michel and starts a wild affair with him but his emotions are conflicting. He doesn’t know what to do, he is drawn to Michel despite what has happened, is he making an excuse for him? For Franck as well as to the audience it’s a question that remains unanswered for a long time.
Guiraudie limits himself in multiple aspects: all of the events take place at the same place, the movie features only men and there is no score or music, but he directs with incredible style, crafting a tranquilizing atmosphere that goes well with the soothing feeling one gets when they’re laying on the beach without a care in the world. It might take a while for most audiences to get used to this suspenseful atmosphere combined with the many penises that are shown on screen (it might even create awkward laughter), but once they get used to the idea, L’Inconnu Du Lac is a powerful film.