2014 is shaping up to be a swell year for fans of explicit, foreign-language gay sex, as Alain Guiraudie's Stranger by the Lake vaults right over the man-on-man pole recently erected by Antonio Hens' The Last Match. Handsome young Franck (Pierre Deladonchamps) spends his summer days cruising for hot anonymous action on the nude beach of a certain French lake. He meets the schlubby Henri (Patrick D'Assumçao), who's great for conversation, and the hunky Michel (Christophe Paou, a dead ringer for 1972 Mark Spitz), who's great for everything else. Unfortunately, as Franck witnesses, Michel also has a tendency to kill his lovers... but if a hot piece of ass is also a murderer, does that really have to be a dealbreaker? In its methodical, languidly paced examination of a furtive aspect of gay life in a single setting, the picture is reminiscent of Jacques Nolot's similarly observational Porn Theater, but with near-constant nudity and far more explicit sex. There are no close-ups of penetration, but we do get a handjobbed money shot, and those who find such things too ooky will miss out on a great film about gay men getting killed while cruising that manages to be both sexy and not homophobic. In other words, Stranger by the Lake is no Cruising.
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