Set around an idyllic lake, surrounded by beach and forest, ‘Stranger by the Lake’ masterfully lays a Hitchcockian atmosphere of sheer fear through a series of paradoxes-
a claustrophobic film circling a broad placid lake,
a thick, well-trodden forest that reveals more than it conceals,
a roll-call of strangers, with recognisable routines.
Its execution shadows Hitchcock’s style from the 1930s – 1950s. The awareness revealed to viewers in ‘Sabotage’. The secrets carried by people in ‘Shadow of a Doubt’. The tense, voyeuristic nature of ‘Rear Window’.
Upon its release at Cannes, it won two important awards (amongst the multitudes that overpower the festival). The ‘Queer Palm’ award for Best Film with LGBT themes, and the Best Director Award in the Un Certain Regard section.
Franck, portrayed by Pierre Deladonchamps, frequents the lake and its surroundings, looking to fulfill his emotions. But many more men are scattered around the lake as well. An intersection of desire.
Objection to the film’s future release in Australia (and there will be complaints), can essentially be resolved swiftly (but not ideally) with the removal of a handful of brief images which, for some, may push the boundaries of explicitness. But to do so, is to misappropriate the film’s theme with sex.
It’s about lust.
Confronting. Explicit. Eerie. Nightmarish
Stranger by the Lake deserved its accolades at Cannes. Its atmosphere lingers long in my memory, rolling over the haunting images and spectral sounds.
– Rhett Bartlett