Pierre Deladonchamps | Photographby Steeve Beckouet
The film Stranger by the Lake, by veteran French writer-director Alain Guiraudie, was nominated for several Cesar awards, the French version of the Oscars, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, and Best Supporting Actor (Patrick d'Assumcao). But it took home only one award, for Most Promising Actor (Newcomer), for the film's star, Pierre Deladonchamps. Cannes' big winner, Blue Is the Warmest Color, was nominated in eight categories but took home only one prize, that for most promising actress for Adele Exarchopoulos. Her co-star Lea Seydoux was passed over for the best actress prize.
As Aaron Hicklin described in a story earlier this year, Stranger By the Lake is confined to a lakeside cruising spot in the south of France:
"It is a virtuoso example of making the familiar feel treacherous and strange. What starts as a gay idyll — naked men lying languidly around a sparkling lake under a hot summer sun — quickly turns dark and claustrophobic when Franck (Pierre Deladonchamps) witnesses mustachioed hottie Michel (Christophe Paou) drowning his trick late one evening. When a police inspector invades this private world, Franck not only stays quiet about what he has seen, he embarks on a sexual relationship with Michel, unwilling to cool his infatuation."
As Deladonchamps explained, it’s not just passion that keeps Franck in thrall to Michel. “It’s about loneliness and what you’re capable of when you’re in love,” he said. “He’s looking for something to fill up his life because he feels lonely and useless.”
As Jason Lamphier explained, "to dub Blue Is the Warmest Color a lesbian film or coming-of-age story would be reductive. Adèle’s is a tale with a univeral message that must bear repeating, the same one imparted to her by an aging club kid on one of her first nights out at a gay bar: 'True love has no gender.'"
Photo of Adele Exarchopoulos by Daniel Bergeron