Stranger by the Lake

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Stranger by the Lake
Stranger by the Lake poster.jpg
Film poster
Directed byAlain Guiraudie
Produced bySylvie Pialat
Written byAlain Guiraudie
StarringPierre Deladonchamps
Christophe Paou
Patrick d'Assumçao
CinematographyClaire Mathon
Edited byJean-Christophe Hym
Distributed byLes films du losange
Release date
  • 17 May 2013 (2013-05-17) (Cannes)
  • 12 June 2013 (2013-06-12) (France)
Running time
100 minutes[1]
Budget$1.3 million
Box office$1.6 million[2]

Stranger by the Lake (French: L'Inconnu du lac) is a 2013 French drama-thriller film written and directed by Alain Guiraudie. The film premiered in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival[3] where Guiraudie won the award for Best Director.[4] The film also won the Queer Palm award,[5] and was mentioned on multiple top ten lists of the best films of 2014.[6]


Franck (Pierre Deladonchamps) is a regular visitor to a nude beach and the woods surrounding it, both of which are a popular cruising destination for gay men. He befriends Henri (Patrick d'Assumçao), an older man who seeks solitude at the beach after breaking up with his girlfriend, and Michel (Christophe Paou), a handsome man to whom Franck is instantly attracted.

One evening, Franck observes Michel drowning another man in the lake. Though terrified by what he has seen, Franck is unable to resist his attraction to Michel, and continues to pursue him. When the body of the drowned man is discovered and identified, a police investigator begins to question the men at the beach; Franck tells the investigator that he did not see anything unusual on the evening the man drowned. Franck and Michel's relationship progresses, though Franck becomes increasingly frustrated by Michel's refusal to meet him anywhere other than at the beach.

Henri, who has correctly intuited the events that have occurred over the past several days, warns Franck about Michel. When Franck goes swimming, Henri confronts Michel, and tells him that he knows he is the murderer. Henri leaves to take a walk in the woods, casting a glance back at Michel as he departs. When Franck returns, he discovers that the beach is suddenly deserted. He enters the woods, where he sees Michel walking away from a patch of tall grass. Upon entering the grass, he finds Henri, whose throat has been slit. Franck, now being pursued by Michel, runs into the woods to hide. Michel runs into the inspector, whom he hits violently and stabs in the stomach with a knife.

Night falls, and Franck remains in hiding. Michel calls out to Franck, saying that he needs his love and wants to spend the night with him. Franck does not respond, and Michel walks away to search for him deeper in the woods. Franck stands up from his hiding place, and calls out Michel's name.



View of the Lake.

The film contained unsimulated sex, which was filmed using body doubles. Guiraudie and the actors came to the decision that they would be uncomfortable filming the scenes themselves.[7][8][9] The film was shot at the Lake of Sainte-Croix in Provence, in September 2012.


The film was screened in the Contemporary World Cinema section at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.[10][11]


Stranger by the Lake received widespread critical acclaim. The review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 94% rating, based on reviews from 93 critics, with an average score of 7.75/10. The website's critical consensus reads: "Sexy, smart, and darkly humorous, Stranger by the Lake offers rewarding viewing for adult filmgoers in search of thought-provoking drama."[12] Metacritic gives a score of 82 based on 26 critics, indicating "universal acclaim."[13]

Reviewing on Roger Ebert's website, Michał Oleszczyk awards the film four out of four stars, praising Guiraudie's directing and the acting of the cast. He writes: "Stranger by the Lake is the sexiest and most elegant thriller in years..."[14]

Village Voice film critic Melissa Anderson calls the film "Guiraudie's most sexually explicit and narratively taut work," adding that "the writer-director's attention to the anarchic pull of lust, simultaneously celebrated and reproved here, is sharper than ever."[15]

In January 2014, the film was nominated for eight César Awards at the 39th César Awards,[16] with Pierre Deladonchamps winning the award for Most Promising Actor.[17]

Top ten lists[edit]

The film was chosen as the best film of 2013 by French film magazine Cahiers du cinéma.[18] It also appeared on several American film critics' 2014 top ten lists.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "STRANGER BY THE LAKE (18)". British Board of Film Classification. 17 September 2013. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
  2. ^ "Stranger by the Lake - International Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
  3. ^ "2013 Official Selection". Cannes Film Festival. 6 May 2013. Retrieved 6 May 2013.
  4. ^ Richford, Rhonda (26 May 2013). "Cannes: 'The Missing Picture' Wins Un Certain Regard Prize". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 26 May 2013.
  5. ^ AFP (26 May 2013). "'Hardcore' gay film wins at Cannes". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 26 May 2013.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Dietz, Jason (6 December 2014). "Metacritic: 2014 Film Critic Top Ten Lists". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 21 May 2017.
  7. ^ Osenlund, R. Kurt (24 January 2014). "Interview: Alain Guiraudie on Stranger by the Lake". Slant. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  8. ^ Xtra (10 January 2014). "A nude beach, cruising & hardcore sex: Pierre Deladonchamps in Stranger by the Lake". YouTube. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
  9. ^ The Festival Circuit (15 September 2013). "Stranger by the Lake - Q&A Toronto Film fest, Lightbox (9 November 2013) - actor Pierre Deladonchamps". YouTube. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
  10. ^ "Stranger by the Lake". Toronto International Film Festival. Archived from the original on 10 February 2014. Retrieved 24 August 2013.
  11. ^ Knegt, Peter (13 August 2013). "Toronto Adds 75+ Titles To 2013 Edition". IndieWire. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 24 August 2013.
  12. ^ "Stranger by the Lake (2014)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 27 June 2019.
  13. ^ "Stranger by the Lake". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 25 January 2014.
  14. ^ Oleszczyk, Michał (24 January 2014). "Stranger by the Lake". Ebert Digital LLC. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  15. ^ Anderson, Melissa (22 January 2014). "Stranger by the Lake: Trouble in a Gay Paradise". The Village Voice. Retrieved 25 January 2014.
  16. ^ Richford, Rhonda (31 January 2014). "Berenice Bejo, Lea Seydoux, Roman Polanski Among France's Cesar Awards Nominees". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 1 February 2014.
  17. ^ Richford, Rhonda (28 February 2014). "France's Cesar Awards: 'Me, Myself and Mum' Wins Best Film". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 1 March 2014.
  18. ^ "Top Ten 2013 de Cahiers du cinéma". Cahiers du cinéma. December 2013. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
  19. ^ a b The Editors (18 December 2014). "The Individual Top Tens of 2014". Ebert Digital LLC. Retrieved 22 May 2017.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)

External links[edit]