L'inconnu du lac
starring Pierre Deladonchamps, Christophe Paou, Patrick d'Assumçao, Jérôme Chappatte
written and directed by Alain Guiraudie
by Angelo Muredda Late in Alain Guiraudie's Stranger by the Lake, a detective sent to investigate the murder of a young man at a nude male beach designated as a gay cruising spot breaks from his procedural script to unload his exasperation on a potential suspect. "You guys have a strange way of loving each other sometimes," the investigator (Jérôme Chappatte) points out, when it seems that no one can provide him with so much as the first names of their recent conquests, much less recall the moment the handsome guy with the ballcap vanished without a trace, save for his abandoned beach towel. His assessment cuts two ways in a film that, before veering into the territory of gothic sex thrillers with uncommon ease, takes a wry anthropological approach to good sex and bad love in a space designed to indulge both in their most rarefied forms. On the one hand, the detective is an anticipatory mouthpiece for the conservative critics who would rain down on the movie he's in, eager perhaps to brand this tribe he's wandered into as perverse, borderline sociopathic death-seekers with no regard for their fellow neighbours. Yet his curiosity and suspension of judgment might also mark him as Guiraudie's ideal audience: a serene observer held in thrall to the strange lengths people will go to satisfy their desires.