Sex, loneliness & death

by Meritxell Riera Prims


Still of Christophe Paou and Pierre Deladonchamps in L’inconnu du lac

L’inconnu du lac (Stranger by the lake) must be one of the best flicks I’ve seen this past year. It’s actually conceived as a classic erotic and psychological thriller, although with a few singularities. It’s shot in a non-conventional way, and the topic is not conventional either, since it takes place in the homosexual world. There’s no soundtrack –which gives it an interesting disturbing atmosphere, considering the plot- and it is of such realism that at times brings it closer to a documentary (and there’s in fact a couple of 100% explicit shots). But the most important thing is that the acting is awesome.

However, as a heterosexual woman who’s not familiar with the male homosexual population’s dynamics (and I stress male, because I presume that among female homosexuals things are slightly different) I wonder if it’s not depicted in an excessively sordid way (because many things in the movie ARE sordid –and  it’s not some moral fixation of mine), and how the reception among the homosexual community must have been. Because we’re not talking about Brokeback Mountain, here, guys. Make no mistake about it.

I don’t want it to look like I’m exoticizing homosexuality by saying ‘I’m not familiar with their dynamics’ as if I was talking about a different species. That’s a job for commercial –and not so commercial- cinema, with the stereotype, either of the careless queeny-acting type, or the repressed, tormented homosexual that hasn’t come out yet. Also, homosexuals usually represent themselves through stereotypes. Otherwise, take a look at Pedro Almodóvar’s films or read some Ralf König’s comic strips (which, on the other hand, I love).

Anyway, that’s not the case of the movie, where, as I said, everything is very realistic. The emotions and desires of the main characters do not differ at all from those of any heterosexual. But I was shocked by the issue of cruising, of the random promiscuity, which is precisely one of the arguments used by the ultraconservative and the homophobes to condemn homosexuality. What they call ‘vice’, in other words. As a matter of fact, it is something that does happen. I just wonder at what level…

Either way, it’s a brave, highly recommendable feature, as long as, of course, you get rid of your prejudices.