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Laramie Movie Scope:
Stranger by the Lake (L'inconnu du lac)

Risky love

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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January 15, 2015 -- A man engages in very risky sexual behavior with a deadly, mysterious man in this film about love, sex and murder that all takes place near a lake.

I kept waiting for the film to have an indoor scene, or a scene in a city or town, but every scene in the movie takes place in or near a lake (Lake of Sainte-Croix, Verdon Gorge, France). The scenes are set up by cars, driven by the characters, pulling into a primitive parking area next to the lake.

It's summer, hot. A young man, Franck (played by Pierre Deladonchamps) in between jobs, goes to the lake to cruise. The men on the rocky beach are mostly nude and mostly homosexuals. They cruise, pair up and head into the trees for some privacy and sex (sometimes shown in very graphic detail). Franck is attracted to a well-built man Michel (Christophe Paou) who is a very strong swimmer, but Michel is romantically attached to another man, Pascal Ramière (François Labarthe).

Franck also strikes up a friendship, non-sexual, with Henri (Patrick D'Assumçao) who sits alone, apart from the others, on the shore of the lake. Henri likes to talk with Franck, but doesn't associate with others on the beach. He doesn't want to cruise. Henri was married before but now lives alone and is very lonely. He and Franck sometimes have dinner and drinks together. Henri wants more out of this relationship, but doesn't want sex, just friendship.

One day Franck, hiding in the trees, sees Michel murder Ramière in the lake by drowning him. Franck does nothing to stop the murder and tells no one what he saw. Franck begins romantic liaisons with Michel immediately after the murder. A police inspector (Jérôme Chappatte) thinks the drowning is suspicious and thinks the behavior of Franck and Michel is even more suspicious. The inspector hangs around the lake, asking questions of everyone day after day. Pressure builds on Franck and Michel's relationship as suspicions mount.

Well, you can tell this whole mess is not going to end well. Michel, Franck and Henri are all very complex characters who can't be pinned down exactly. Their motivations are not clear. What is it that they want from each other? Why would Franck put himself in danger by knowingly taking the place of the murdered man, Pascal Ramière? Isn't he just asking to be murdered himself? Henri also puts himself in harm's way unexpectedly, why? Some of these questions are answered, but others are left open at the end of the film.

I guess this story is at least partly an exploration of the kind of people who engage in risky behavior and how that might involve a death wish. Another plot point that touches on this is how some men, like Michel and Franck are not worried about HIV infection, while others in the story are very worried about such things.

While I found the characters interesting, the story was not very compelling and I found it to be pretty slow-moving as well. I learned a lot more about homosexual sex techniques than I wanted to know, and less about the characters than I wanted to know. This film rates a C.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2015 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)