Stranger by the Lake is available to rent or buy now.
For many men, the excitement, apprehension, fear and doubt of cruising remains a core part of their sexual world. The secret, clandestine and often risky public encounters they engage in, a part of a culture that transcends labels of sexuality. In this world, one’s sexual identity is rarely raised. The secretive, closed, or public cruising ground, offering an opportunity to escape restrictive male identity while embracing risk under a cloak of urgent sexual desire.
Cruising was and still is, full of risk, with men of all ages hoping to catch one, two or even three new partners in an afternoon. Their everyday lives, placed to one side as they become the hunter or the hunted in a secretive or public location. Sometimes these meetings are scary, abrupt and disappointing, while sometimes, they are full of energy, passion, wit or humour. But, how do you reflect the secluded yet public world of cruising on film?
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The act of cruising has found a voice in several thrillers over the years, most notably William Friedkin’s Cruising (1980) starring Al Pacino. However, Cruising caused more than its fair share of controversy on release, with the gay community condemning the final picture (but that is another story). By 2013, gay sex on screen may have dramatically improved. Still, Stranger by the Lake challenged the stereotypes surrounding cruising by reflecting the very human face of anonymous public sex. While at the same time exploring the inherent risks of the cruising ground. The result is a film laced with themes of blind trust, desire, human fragility and sex. Here, Alain Guiraudie’s film burns bright with sexual intensity, risk and passion alongside a hard-edged, slow-burn mystery thriller that is both captivating and stunning.
Stranger by the Lake is not only a groundbreaking LGBTQ+ thriller. It’s a commentary on blind love, a need for belonging at any cost and the choices we make in searching for the ‘one’. The result is an atmospheric, Hitchcockian thriller that works on multiple levels while leaving its audience with a nail-biting cliffhanger.
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