At a beautiful lakeside cruising spot, men gather to lie in the sun, swim and hook up in the nearby woods. Franck (Deladonchamps), a regular, strikes up a friendship with Henri, an overweight straight man (d’Assumcao) who goes there to escape the screaming kids on the other side of the lake. But Franck’s eye is really drawn to the handsome, muscular Michel (Paou). One evening Franck witnesses Michel drowning his lover in the lake; as a result, his attraction only grows, astounding even himself. Inevitably, he starts a torrid affair with the sensual, remote killer. But at what point does his infatuation turn deadly?
With a Hitchcockian sense of tension, director Guiraudie slowly transforms this seemingly bucolic tableau to one of dread and horror. Eschewing any kind of musical score, the sounds of wind in the trees, water lapping and bushes rustling become an immersive soundtrack. The action, limited to the lake and its surroundings, draws us in, and we become implicit in Franck’s emotional confusion. Deladonchamps won a French César for his turn as a man consumed with longing, and Guiraudie won a directing prize at Cannes for this dreamy yet unnerving exploration of irrational desire. This movie goes far beyond the pigeonhole of gay cinema and into the rarefied realm of first-rate thrillers. (Note: the film depicts male frontal nudity in abundance, and a few scenes of explicit gay sex).