One of the most intriguing, provocative and unsettling stars of the Cannes Film Festival 2013, Alain Guiraudie’s Stranger by the Lake hits UK cinemas 21 February. Winner of both the Queer Palm and Best Director in the Un Certain Regard section of Cannes, this sexual thriller has also been nominated for 8 César awards and has received critical acclaim across the board following its release in the United States earlier this year.
This striking and offbeat feature is set against the secluded back drop of what becomes the most dangerous lake in France. Lonely Franck (Pierre Deladonchamps) falls in blindly in love with Michel (Christophe Paou), an attractive, extremely potent but lethal man. Although Franck has experienced Michael’s brutality first hand, his desire for his new lover knows no bounds. This is a relationship he must have – at any cost.
Balancing comedy with thiller, Guiraudie’s quest was to examine love and passion through a sexual relationship and question how far one will go in the pursuit of this. Creating the backdrop in a world he knew well, Guiraudie concentrated on elements that interested him the most: the sun, water and a forest. Each of these aspects take on symbolic meaning and have a part to play in telling Frank and Michael’s story, creating a delicate internal dialogue which teeters between fantasy and reality. The lake is a central character in the film, a troubling, dual and deceptive element, raising the issue of escape and freedom: can the characters escape via the lake or do they choose to go toward the forest?
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