Review of "Stranger by the Lake" - Blinded by Love
I've seen my share of gay-themed movies, but the French indie, Stranger by the Lake, is the first to feature a sociopath. Although it was one of the most slow-paced films I've seen in some time, I enjoyed it. Perhaps it was because of its French pedigree or a setting that somewhat suggested Fire Island's Meat Rack (where encounters with strangers abound). It also had a number of sweet moments and amusing encounters that brought to mind some I've experienced. And some rather explicit sex scenes broke up the monotony.
One summer day twenty-something Franck meets Michel while both are swimming in the lake (Michel looks like a cross between Mark Spitz and Omar Sharif). Later that day Franck watches from the woods as Michel and his boyfriend swim playfully in the lake at dusk. However, the hijinxs take a deadly turn when Henri suddenly holds the boyfriend under the water, drowning him. The following day, despite what he witnessed, Franck begins an affair with Henri and is smitten. (Talk about being drawn to a "bad boy"!) Not long afterward, however, things begin to unravel, and when the movie ends, in nighttime darkness, the viewer is left to wonder whether 1) Franck will also be murdered; 2) Franck will go to the police; or 3) Franck will continue his affair with Michel (but never swim alone with him at dusk).
Curiously (or disturbingly?), I wasn't put off by Franck's willingness to overlook Henri's murderous act. Perhaps I figured he'd eventually come to his senses. Or is it a commentary on how we're willing to look the other way when we find someone cute and sexy? (Yes, I wrote "we".) Bottom line, I give the film a 7. As for my lack of moral outrage, I give myself a 4 (not lower, because in my heart of hearts I knew that Franck's silence was wrong).
I'm outraged by your lack of moral outrage!
Just kidding. I think movies, no matter how real the subject matter, are a means of escape, fantasy, etc. Your being able to overlook Henri's obvious faults is not necessarily a mirror of what you would do in this situation, but more of an honest, human reaction to how complicated our lives are. There should be no apologizing or self-moralizing for reacting to a MOVIE in a certain way. If these feelings were carried out in real life, then that's a discussion for a different type of blog! lol
Posted by: Tom Grasso | 02/20/2014 at 09:20 AM