Follow TV Tropes


Film / Stranger by the Lake

Go To

Stranger by the Lake (French: "L'inconnu du lac") is a 2013 French film written and directed by Alain Guiraudie, focusing on a group of gay men who meet at a cruising nudist beach next to a lake somewhere in France.

Franck (Pierre Deladonchamps) is in love with Michel (Christophe Paou) who is sleeping with most of the men at the beach. Franck desires Michel - even when he witnesses Michel drowning his lover in the lake one night. When the body resurfaces, Frank (who by now is having frequent sex with Michel) must decide whether to live out his passion, whilst Inspecteur Damroder (Jérôme Chappatte) tries to investigate the murder despite everyone on the beach closing ranks and saying nothing. Meanwhile, Henri (Patrick d'Assumçao), a newcomer to the beach, must deal with his feelings towards Franck.


Tropes by the Lake:

  • A Date with Rosie Palms:
    • Franck and a guy give each other mutual masturbation because they're out of condoms.
    • A man regularly masturbates watching other men having sex.
  • All Gays are Promiscuous: But then, they are at a cruising ground...
  • Antagonist Title: Michel is the stranger that Franck meets at the lake. He also drowns his boyfriend and later slices Henri's throat.
  • Background Music: Averted, no music features in the film whatsoever.
  • Bottle Episode: The entire film takes place at the eponymous lake and in the surrounding woods.
  • Bury Your Gays: Most of Michel's victims are other gay men.
  • Cast Full of Gay: With the (possible) exception of the Inspector.
  • Chromosome Casting: Since the film focuses on a group of gay men in one area, there understandably isn't a single woman in the film. Lampshaded near the start of the film, where a man looking for a woman is told bluntly that he must be in the wrong place.
  • Advertisement:
  • Coitus Uninterruptus: Michel doesn't even bat an eye when he notices Frank watching him and his boyfriend.
  • Depraved Homosexual: Michel.
  • Establishing Shot: The shot of the car park, where one or more cars are seen driving in, marks the beginning of a new day.
  • Everybody Has Lots of Sex: Taking a hike through the woods is a sure way to get laid.
  • Fan Disservice : Not all men in the film are attractive. In particular, the man who wanks in the woods.
  • Fanservice: The sex scenes that we do see, however, are between well-built attractive young men.
  • For the Evulz: Michel most likely killed his boyfriend out of sheer boredom. How sweet of him.
  • Hollywood Darkness: Averted. The scenes that take place during the night feature realistic lighting. So much so that sometimes we don't see anything but complete blackness.
  • It's Not Porn, It's Art: Porn actors were recruited as body doubles for filming close-ups. Yep...
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Frank falls head over heels for Michel and ends up helping him cover up a murder. Or maybe even two.
  • Love Makes You Dumb: Frank is so infatuated with Michel that he pursues a relationship with him even after seeing him kill his lover and actually calls out for him right before the movie ends, not knowing whether he'll get killed for his troubles as well.
  • Mad Love: Between Michel and Franck.
  • Manly Gay: The entire cast. No-one is seen having any particularly camp moments.
  • Male Frontal Nudity: Most of the cast.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Inverted, as Henri is the only one not to get naked to the bemusement of others.
  • No Ending : The film abruptly ends with Franck calling for Michel in the night. We don't get to learn Michel's motivation for killing his lover, although it's possible based on Henri's observation that it's just because he was tired of him.
  • The Oner: The shot where Michel drowns his lover and then leaves the lake, walks back towards his clothes, gets dressed and then leaves, is all one continuous shot.
  • Only Sane Man: Of the main cast, Henri is the only one who discerns Michel for what he is, warning Franck that he's "weird."
  • Porn Stache: Michel spots one.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Damroder doesn't show any signs of homophobic prejudice, actually follows up on Franck's alibi and doesn't accuse anyone right away, preferring to stick around and question as many people as possible. So, basically he's just doing his job. Too bad that it gets him stabbed by Michel in the end.
  • Romance and Sexuality Separation: Henri and Franck have a conversation about this, where Henri says he's over his need to hook up with attractive men and just wants a partner to spend his life with. Franck argues that such a thing is impossible without attraction, but Henri disagrees. And while some viewers joked that Franck is a stereotypical gay man who would rather be with an actual psychotic killer than a good man who happens to be fat, Henri openly admits he doesn't actually want to sleep with Franck.
  • Scenery Porn: There are quite a lot of prolonged shots of the lake in question, the woods and the clouds to indicate the passage of time.
  • Serial Killer: Michel is revealed to have killed other men before appearing at the cruising ground, and in the film proper kills his unnamed lover, Henri, Damroder, and potentially Franck just after the film ends.
  • Slashed Throat: How Michel kills Henri at the end.
  • Suicide by Cop: Henri bluntly tells Michel that he suspects him to be the killer then lures him into the woods. When Franck finds Henri bleeding to death he tells him that he got what he wanted.
  • Ugly Hero, Good-Looking Villain: Henri is fat, frumpy, and older than most of the other characters, but has a good heart and has keen observations about life; whereas Michel is younger, tanned, fit, and handsome and a murderous sociopath. Henri outright tells Franck that he's so infatuated with Michel's looks that he can't see who he really is.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Michel killed his boyfriend because he got bored with him and was most likely going to do the same thing with Franck.