Stranger by the Lake (L’inconnu du lac)

February 10, 2014 at 3:26 pm | Posted in 2014 | Leave a comment

◊ ½

I wish I had had a more auspicious start to the films of 2014.  I had such high hopes for this French film, which has a 98% on Rotten Tomatoes.  However, this sexually explicit gay murder thriller did something I would not have guessed; it bored me.  Personally, I struggle with the way French films build tension.  I find that they often plod along with long silences and inexplicable scenes.  This was true here.  Despite the movies initial promise, it never really delivers any excitement or danger.  What we do get lots of is very graphic scenes of men cruising and having sex (and I do mean extremely graphic — we do actually watch an ejaculation at one point).  You might think that would be exciting, too, but it’s not.  In fact it is so passionless and is such a barrage on screen that I found myself numbed by it and, yes, bored.  I was also a bit troubled by the over-arching message of the film, which seemed to be that gay men eschew real intimacy in favor of rote, compulsive sex and have no core sense of morals when faced with evil.  Not only do I not find that to be accurate but it also robs the story of the opportunity to develop any meaningful tension and it robs the audience of anyone to relate to.  The men are beautiful, I will give you that.  And, if staring at beautiful naked men for almost the entire 100 minutes is appealing enough, then don’t let me hold you back.  For me, though, this movie reminded me of nothing so much as (with 70s mustache included) a combination of “Cruising” and “Cache.”  And that’s just not a combo that worked for me.

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