L’inconnu du lac (2013) Poster

L’inconnu du lac (2013)

  • Rate: 7.1/10 total 1,928 votes 
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Date: 12 June 2013 (France)
  • Runtime: 100 min
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L’inconnu du lac (2013)


Linconnu du lac 2013tt2852458.jpg poster

  • IMDb page: L’inconnu du lac (2013)
  • Rate: 7.1/10 total 1,928 votes 
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Date: 12 June 2013 (France)
  • Runtime: 100 min
  • Gross: $27,599 (USA) (24 January 2014)
  • Director: Alain Guiraudie
  • Stars: Pierre Deladonchamps, Christophe Paou, Patrick d’Assumçao | See full cast and crew »
  • Sound Mix: Dolby | Dolby Digital
  • Plot Keyword: Cruising | Love | Lake | Drowned | Queer

Writing Credits By:

    (in alphabetical order)

  • Alain Guiraudie 

Known Trivia

  • The hardcore shots were filmed using body doubles as director Alain Guiraudie thought it would be asking too much of the actors to have sex on camera. He also stated the problem that professional actors couldn’t get strong enough erections so he thought it best to use body doubles. 7 of 7 found this interesting Interesting? YesNo |
  • Alain Guiraudie briefly flirted with casting porn actors in the two lead roles of Frank and Michel but he did not like their acting, so he cast professional actors instead. 5 of 5 found this interesting Interesting? YesNo |
  • For the hard core material, Alain Guiraudie wanted to film penetration shots too, but the body doubles employed wouldn’t film them without condoms and in the film, Frank and Michel penetrate each other without condoms, so Alain Guiraudie dropped those shots. 4 of 4 found this interesting Interesting? YesNo |
  • Director Alain Guiraudie based the setting of the film – the lake of the title – on a real lake side cruising ground he knew. But he did not film at that exact location and chose a different location that was warmer and sunnier. He specifically picked a beach next to a lake as opposed to one next to a sea because with the sea, the horizon is too far and too wide and he wanted to constrain the setting, so he chose a beach next to a lake instead for a more limited setting, like in a play. 4 of 4 found this interesting Interesting? YesNo |
  • Alain Guiraudie said this was a very personal film for him because through this film he was directly addressing and dealing with his sexuality on screen in an explicit manner. 4 of 4 found this interesting Interesting? YesNo |
  • The first cut of the film was 2 hours and 18 minutes long. In the editing room, director Alain Guiraudie made a lot of changes, cut out a lot of dialogue scenes and sex scenes, inserted a lot of cutaways to nature to show the passage of time and made the film more elliptical to arrive at the pared down run time of 1 hour and 40 minutes. 3 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? YesNo |
  • All the sound in the film – the wind, the trees and the water – was naturally recorded on location. 3 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? YesNo |
  • Alain Guiraudie said he tried to write a heterosexual version of this story in the scripting stages but it did not work. He said, this story needed to be a story about men and the to leads needed to be equal to each other in every way. That is why he made it a love story between two men. 3 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? YesNo |
  • Writer/Director Alain Guiraudie finished writing the entire script in only 45 days. 2 of 2 found this interesting Interesting? YesNo |
  • There was no improvisation on set. All the scenes were filmed exactly as written and the dialogue was word for word as in the script. Even the numerous sex scenes between the lead actors were extensively choreographed and rehearsed so that the crew could go on location and film the sex scenes quickly and smoothly. It also put the actors at ease as they had to just mechanically perform what they had rehearsed. 2 of 2 found this interesting Interesting? YesNo |

Plot: Summertime. A cruising spot for men, tucked away on the shores of a lake. Franck falls in love with Michel. An attractive, potent and lethally dangerous man. Franck knows this, but wants to live out his passion anyway. |  »

Story: Summertime. A cruising spot for men, tucked away on the shores of a lake. Franck falls in love with Michel. An attractive, potent and lethally dangerous man. Franck knows this, but wants to live out his passion anyway.

FullCast & Crew

Produced By:

  • Sylvie Pialat known as producer
  • Benoît Quainon known as executive producer
  • Gilles Sitbon known as associate producer

FullCast & Crew:

  • Pierre Deladonchamps known as Franck
  • Christophe Paou known as Michel
  • Patrick d'Assumçao known as Henri (as Patrick D'Assumçao)
  • Jérôme Chappatte known as Inspecteur Damroder
  • Mathieu Vervisch known as Eric
  • Gilbert Traina known as L'homme du mardi soir (as Gilbert Traïna)
  • Emmanuel Daumas known as Philippe
  • Sébastien Badachaoui known as Le mari d'Eric
  • Gilles Guérin known as L'homme à femmes
  • François-Renaud Labarthe known as Pascal Ramière (as François Labarthe)
  • Claude Bellelle known as Un naturiste
  • Slawomir Cieminski known as Un naturiste
  • Jean-Marie Crémier known as Un naturiste
  • Bernard Delavaux known as Un naturiste
  • Bernard German known as Un naturiste
  • Jean-Michel Giordano known as Un naturiste
  • Lucien Lerda known as Un naturiste
  • Patrick Marconi known as Un naturiste
  • Serge Morgadinho known as Un naturiste
  • Eric Piccolotto known as Un naturiste
  • Corentin Plas known as Un naturiste
  • Renaud Rifflart known as Un naturiste
  • Thomas Salles known as Un naturiste
  • Nicolas Guimbard known as Doublure
  • Joël Landaraud known as Doublure
  • Alain Guiraudie known as L'ami de Philippe (uncredited)



Supporting Department

Makeup Department:
  • Pierre Olivier Persin known as special makeup effects artist




Production Companies:

  • Les Films du Worso
  • arte France Cinéma (co-production)
  • M141 Productions (co-production) (as M141)
  • Films de Force Majeure (co-production)
  • Cinémage 7 (in association with)
  • Soficinéma 9 (in association with)
  • ARTE France (participation)
  • Centre National de la Cinématographie (CNC) (participation)
  • Région Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (support)
  • CNC (support)


  • Alamode Filmverleih (2013) (Germany) (theatrical)
  • Cinemien (2013) (Netherlands) (theatrical)
  • Les Films du Losange (2013) (France) (theatrical)
  • Strand Releasing (2013) (USA) (theatrical) (subtitled)
  • Teodora Film (2013) (Italy) (theatrical)
  • Homescreen (2013) (Netherlands) (DVD)
  • Leopardo Filmes (2013) (Portugal) (all media)
  • Madman Entertainment (2013) (Australia) (DVD)
  • NDMantarraya (2013) (Mexico) (all media)
  • Peccadillo Pictures (2013) (UK) (all media)



Filmography links and data courtesy of The Internet Movie Database

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Posted on January 29, 2014 by Harry in Movies | Tags: , .


  1. Gordon-11 from Earth
    29 Jan 2014, 6:00 am

    This film tells what goes on among the men cruising by a beautiful lakein the summer, somewhere in France.

    "Stranger by the Lake" is a single location film, with all sceneshappening in or by the lake. The story focuses on a handsome young manwho gets attracted to a dangerous man, putting his life at risk. Then,relationships between them, and a solitary man who sits by the lakegets complicated. Though the pacing is pretty slow in the beginning,the paces accelerates at lightning speed towards the end, deliveringmuch thrills that makes people hold their breath. The ending is leftopen, but scenes just before the film ends are shocking and almostaggravating, evoking much gasps of horror and shouts of exasperation inthe cinema.

    Together with the highly explicit scenes, "Stranger by the Lake" isquite an thrilling eye opener that tells the truth in a cruisingground, and how love is completely blind.

  2. Martin B. Landry from Montreal, Quebec
    29 Jan 2014, 6:00 am

    Not much to add to the other comments made here, but I'll say that thisfilm was pretty fantastic! It offers a keen inside view of the gaycommunity living and cruising around the lake of the title. All thecharacters are dead on: the cute guy, the old queens, the pervert etc.with no judgment whatsoever. The pacing can seem long to some, but Iquite enjoyed the repetitive installation shots. It mirrored thecompulsive visits to the lake the hero makes, in hopes of finding love,even if he himself knows it's a futile quest.

    "L'inconnu du lac" screened at the FNC (Festival du Nouveau Cinema) afew weeks ago, where I saw "Interior. Leather Bar." (the James Francoand Travis Mathews doc). I couldn't help but see a connection with someof the stuff Franco discussed. Our objections to porn and graphic sexare mostly constructed by society rather than rooted in any inherentlymoral reasons. The sex scenes in "L'inconnu du lac" are very graphicbut never gratuitous. They expose the mal de vivre of the gay men whovisit this beautiful lake better than words could.

  3. doomgen_29 from France
    29 Jan 2014, 6:00 am

    There are some thriller tropes here and there, a tiny bit of suspense,but at its core, it's mostly a chronicle, we follow, for a few day, ahandful of men cruising by a lac. Some will be taken aback by thehighly graphical nature of the movie, but I deeply believe that thepoint here isn't shock value, but simply the desire to shoot thatpeculiar microcosm completely untethered, and that, Giraudie (thewriter- director) certainly does in spades! Idiots will talked aboutporn, but this clearly isn't masturbation material, it truly ismasterful and heartfelt filmmaking, art in the true sense of the word,but with a lot of fellatio and hand jobs between men! It should speakto all of us, because at its core is the fear of absolute loneliness,even amongst one's kin, and the character of Henri in that respect isquite fascinating. Basically the man is a clam, his mind seemsunfathomable, is he looking for a friend, is he looking for a lover?What does he truly want from the protagonist Franck? Who knows? So, tosum it up, don't take your parents to see this film, trust me, but go,you'll thank me later!

  4. jimflemingnsw from Australia
    29 Jan 2014, 6:00 am

    The film has a rigid repetitive structure: arrival at the beach; thewalk through a sylvan landscape; arrival at an idyllic place where allthe senses are salved by the beauty of the beach, the sensuous soundsof the water, the soughing of the breeze in the trees; the quiet returnat day's end. And then the same structure to the next day, and the oneafter that, and so on. It is a metaphor both for the sexual act itselfand for the inevitable progress from action to outcome.

    Franck's cruising is initially frustrated. He fails to hook up andthen, when he does, his release is frustrated by his partner'sinsistence on safe sex. Soon, though, his orgasm is explicitlyportrayed: le petit- mort.

    Franck subsequently watches the object of his desire, Michel,participate in playful swimming and ducking with Pascal. The playbecomes rougher and rougher until reaching a devastating climax: legrande mort.

    Despite repeated exposure to evidence of Michel's crime (the abandonedtowel and shoes on the beach, the abandoned red car), Franck embarks ona relationship with Michel. He even risks swimming with him – and theirrelationship reaches a higher climax than before.

    Franck is addicted to sex and has no regard at all for the risks. Hisfellow-naturists are addicted to sun-worship and have no regard for therisks to their skin. Henri is addicted to self-pity and has a barely-suppressed death-wish. The Inspector takes unwarranted risks inrepeatedly interviewing a suspected murderer while alone and undefendedat an isolated beach.

    Ultimately, Franck succumbs completely to his addiction and riskseverything despite the explicit evidence before him. Is the film-makeralluding to mankind's addiction to consumerism despite the known risks?

  5. Michael Carruthers (urbanlegend23) from Wellington, New Zealand
    29 Jan 2014, 6:00 am

    A very explicit French gay-themed film. Sometimes it felt a bit overlyso – including graphic unsimulated scenes of oral sex and even a shotof a man, erm, climaxing. But I kind of admire the movie at the sametime for not shying away from showing anything. The characters areintriguing and the film is beautifully photographed in long,uninterrupted takes and panning shots of the lake setting. The settingitself is one of the best things about the movie. Everything takesplace either on the lake or shore surrounding it, in the forest behindthe lake, or a car park. You become so accustomed to these settingsthat everything else outside them seems meaningless – for instance wenever see what the main character does for a living, or the supposed'happy hour' drinks many of the cruising characters in this film attendafter a day on the lake. None of that would've been necessary becausethe film is all about the character's interactions with one another onthe beach, anything else would've felt out-of-place. It's a brilliantchoice on the part of the director and has an interesting,hard-to-describe effect on the viewer. The film also has a healthy doseof humor (the police inspector is hilarious) and several very intensescenes, especially towards the ending. Recommended, but not for thesqueamish or conservative!

  6. JvH48 from Amersfoort, The Netherlands
    29 Jan 2014, 6:00 am

    I saw this film at the Ghent (Belgium) film festival 2013, where it waspart of the official Competition. Young and middle aged men, slim andfat(ter) men, not all of them with obvious good looks, all around alake in France that is well known as a gay cruising place. People comethere to meet, at first on the beach watching and showing, oftenwithdrawing later discretely in the bushes, either alone to cruise orin pairs to have various forms of sex. They only know each other bytheir first names, and have little intent to form a long lastingrelationship. In other words, this is very-casual sex of the gay kind,a world we know not much about other than some fragmented descriptions.At least, I knew nothing about what this world looked like. This moviehas me updated on my general knowledge, of course thereby safelyassuming that what we saw reflects reality.

    Despite all the above, when relationships get closer, chances that someform of jealousy creeps in are just as big as in hetero relations. Evenspeaking with others on the beach, however brief, is watched closelyand interrupted when it takes too long. Maybe jealousy can be evenworse here, but the story at hand may well be a-typical and possiblyfar from the norm.

    A considerable part of the running time is devoted to showing us howthis cruising world-in-a-world operates, while simultaneously zoomingin on a time bomb that is growing before our eyes, only waiting toexplode in everyone's face. The tension builds up evenly over time,even while knowing all along that no good can come out of this. Thecharacters are introduced nicely, so we get some bit of an idea whothey are and what their purpose is here in this particular part ofFrance. The plot takes off with a murder in the beginning, leading toseveral murders in the end, and in between we see the fatal path pavedstep by step.

    The film makers could not (probably wanted not) avoid including acertain amount of gay sex in various shapes and forms, given thecircumstances. It is not shown to the extent that we can mark is ashard core porn, but some of the scenes are beyond soft and little isleft to our imagination. Those who are unable to bear gay sex scenes infull color, better not book tickets for this movie, since there aremore than a few of these, plus several doses of full frontal nuditybefore and after the action. Maybe I did not pay enough attention, butI did not spot ANY woman in this film, so be prepared for a 100% maleexperience.

    The finale is indeed exploding in our face, condensed in the last 5 to10 minutes, and the consequences are very fatal for some of oursemi-main characters, though the ending leaves open what happens withthe real main characters Franck and Michel. But we can only assume thattheir fate is not much better.

    All in all, though obviously not everyone's cup of tea, the inside viewin a cruising place like this is worth while. And the story never getsreally boring, due to the mix of characters involved, gay in majority,but not all of them. The film makers did a fine job.

  7. Thomas (filmreviews@web.de) from Berlin, Germany
    29 Jan 2014, 6:00 am

    "L'inconnu du lac" or "Stranger by the Lake" has made quite a few wavesin Cannes this year, including a Director win in the certain regardcategory for Alain Guiraudie. When I watched the film earlier today, Iwasn't really sure what to expect at all. I did see the trailerearlier, but judging from that it could have developed into all kindsof directions. What it did turn out to be in the end was a pretty goodcrime thriller and I really liked a lot that we only see everythingthat happens at the lake. There's character development beyond that,for example Franck and Henri meeting for dinner, but the fact that ourknowledge of the situations and characters is restricted exclusively toeverything that happens at the beach lends this 100-minute movie a veryspecial and extremely tense atmosphere from the moment the crime factorcomes into play.

    The film's central character is portrayed by Pierre Deladonchamps as anopenly homosexual male who regularly visits a beach frequented mostlyby gay men looking for adventures and, one day, he sees another bigstrong man, who reminded me of the young Tom Selleck in Magnum, and whohe is immediately attracted to. When the two get closer, dark shadowsget in the way of their togetherness. While the tension rises as thefilm moves on, it's sexually explicit from the very beginning. There'snaked men from start to finish, frequently having sex and on one or twooccasions we even see close-up shots of erect penises and ejaculation.If this does not bother you, it's a movie very much worth watching,especially for Patrick d'Assumçao's excellent supporting performance asa previously-married man who recently found his true sexuality. Thevulnerability he displayed in his scenes had my eyes glued to thescreen. You have to dig really deep to find flaws with it and while theending may not be for everybody, I liked it as well. On a side note,you don't find too many very famous films that feature an exclusivelymale cast, but this one here could fit the category when it makes itsway around theaters and living rooms all across the world and rises inpopularity in the next couple years.

    There's a whole lot of gay-movies (although I don't really like thatterm, as this is certainly one for straight audiences as well) comingout every year, but most of these fall in the short film category,which is a very popular genre for films centering on homosexuality,coming-outs etc. Here is finally a full feature on the issue and evenbetter it's one that is very much worth watching.

  8. mackjay2 from Out There in the Dark
    29 Jan 2014, 6:00 am

    "L'Inconnu du Lac" is a beautifully shot film. That's part of theseductive nature of the experience for the characters and for theviewer. We don't see a lot of gay-themed films like this, minus most ofthe stereotypes, in a minimalist setting, with threadbare narrative.The protagonist, Franck, is a cute, 20-30-something guy who swims at alake frequented by other gay men in search of sun and sex. Franck hasno trouble attracting attention, with and without his swimsuit on. Hequickly befriends an older, unattractive man who always sits alone andseems aloof. Franck's need for connection to others is emphasized bythis friendship. When Michel, a handsome, mustachio-wearing hunk, isspotted, Franck goes into hot pursuit mode. The two connect after awhile, in one of several graphic sexual encounters, and, much too soon,Franck thinks he's in love. The film takes a sinister turn when Franckwitnesses Michel drown a previous companion in the lake. Consumed bydesire for Michel, he tells no one about this and, though he admits toa detective that he was there on the evening of the murder, denies hesaw anything. Why? Franck is so sexually addicted to Michel that hecannot bear to let him go by exposing him. The relationship between thetwo men continues, without real development, since Michel will havenone of Franck's insistence on anything more than sex. In the end,Franck is consumed, literally by desire: the "petite mort" of sexualpleasure becomes the annihilation of the self. The film's beautifulsetting plays against the disturbing narrative, making it a unique,provocative, and often erotic experience.

  9. junkielee from Rome
    29 Jan 2014, 6:00 am

    A much-hyped critics-darling since Cannes this year, a sudden bonanzafor French director/writer Guiraudie, it ends up both in this year'sTop 10 lists of SIGHT & SOUND and CAHIERS DU CINEMA (where it nabs the10th slot and first place respectively). So indisputably it is a movieone shouldn't miss, also plugged by its explicit gay sex scenes, thestimuli are ample.

    Scale-wise, it is an original uni-locale (a nudists beach where gay mencruise around in the nearby woods) theatrical experiment with limitedroles conversing, swimming, peeping, rumination and sexing up,inclusively shot under natural lighting (the climax in the hours ofdarkness couldn't be more instantaneously spine-chilling and expectant)and devoid of music manipulation. The film initiates each day with thesame frame angle aiming to the parking alley and we follow theambivalent path of Franck (Deladonchamps)'s infatuation with theenigmatic Michel (Paou), who is deadly alluring but murderous, step bystep, Franck is drawn into this excitement of uncertainty (and ofcourse, the euphoric pleasure from the carnal knowledge), his desperatemeasure to move their relationship onto another level is at odd withMichel's no sleepover involvement, which reflects the quagmire ofmodern-day relationship syndrome, not exclusive in homosexual club.

    Another sub-plot relates to the purely platonic friendship betweenFranck and a rotund carpenter Henri (d'Assumçao), the only non-nudistand a bystander on the beach, there is awkward silence in betweentellingly suggests the league-boundary is more tensile than one thinks.DP Claire Mathon runs the gamut from the lingering long-distance shotsto the more fluid subjective takes (the murder scene in the lake fromthe viewpoint of Franck combines both into the apotheosis), not tomention the hardcore material in its graphic presentation, I'm not analarmist, so the bold bravura gains many points for the film per se.

    Guiraudie never makes intelligible of the murder case and theturnaround to a modest slasher near the coda is a bit precipitous butthe abrupt ending justifies this entrancing feature as the crème de lacrème in the art house branch because it leaves the viewers in a stateof transcending suspense and never quench it.

    Deladonchamps excels in his guileless jock appearance with a moretraditional value of romance; Paou submerges into a more opaque visionas a perfect lover full of temptation and threat, yet detrimentallyirresistible. Truly, STRANGER BY THE LAKE is an emboldenedgenre-breaker, unlike the spearheading gay romance WEEKEND (2011,8/10), it manifests a different facet of desire, stress andself-delusion among us.

  10. jm10701 from United States
    29 Jan 2014, 6:00 am

    Ah, sweet revenge! This movie is payback to every gay man who ever hadto sit (and who hasn't?) through 20 minutes of graphic straight sex forevery 2 minutes of chaste gay sex in an American movie. There's not aheaving breast anywhere!

    It's an all-male cast, and they're nearly always naked – REALLY naked,not the coy, fig-leaf male nakedness 99% of American movies (even thegay movies) dole out as if it were toxic (in contrast to femalenakedness, which they shove in our faces all day long). The onlyproblem here is the shaved pubic hair, which is a HUGE turn-off.

    I thought the creepy, shaved-pubes look was restricted to gay-for-payporn stars and West Hollywood gym bunnies, so it makes me really sad tosee it even in rural France where this movie is set. The creepyhairless epidemic must be sweeping the whole civilized world. They saycircumcision is a crime and then they shave off the pubes! It's crazy.

    ANYWAY, there's lots of dick, and lots of sex in this movie, and it'snot always simulated. Some will call this porn, but it's not. Some willcall it a thriller, but anybody expecting white knuckles will be badlydisappointed.

    There's a murderer, but there are no big shocks, no frantic chases,nothing out of Hollywood's bag of stock thriller tricks. The movie isas languid and easy as the warm summer days it depicts (but sometimesit does get a little scary in the woods after dark!)

    There are no sets, no special effects, and not one note of music. Thewhole movie takes place outdoors, in and around a beautiful man-madelake (lac de Sainte-Croix) in the foothills of the Alps, on a remotebeach where gay guys go to swim, sun their shaved pubes and cruise thewildlife.

    Besides all the sex, there's a nice friendship between the maincharacter and an oddball straight man who hangs out there for his own,totally harmless reasons. And there's some really funny dialog aboutgiant catfish that may or may not live in the lake.

    Pierre Deladonchamps is fantastic as Franck, the main character, as isPatrick d'Assumçao as Henri the straight guy. Christophe Paou is goodas the subtly sinister murderer Michel – and he is identified early, soI'm not spoiling the story for anybody who hates spoilers.

    I think I can safely say this is unlike any movie anybody has ever seenbefore. I liked it a lot.

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