Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Everything You Ever Need To Know About Life...

... you can learn from:

Henri: Are you married?
Franck: No.
Henri: But you live with a woman?
Franck: No, I'm gay.
Henri: You only sleep with men?
Franck: [smiles] Can we speak frankly?
Henri: It's unusual.
Franck: What is?
Henri: Guys who sleep together, sure, but they've
got a wife or girlfriend. Guys who are gay
-- I mean, really gay -- are pretty rare.

I've always found this conversation in Stranger by the Lake fascinating, and fairly telling coming from Henri, literal killer of gay men -- "really gay" men are getting rarer by the minute thanks to you, Henri! In all seriousness Henri's character is our a representation of our self-destructive impulses turned to flesh (lithe, desirable flesh) -- Franck (funny that he asks, "Can we speak frankly?" here) knows he's chasing the devil, but the heat's too hot to say no to. 

The devil rides a stache! Anyway Henri (Christophe Paou) is naturally a staunch advocate of the closet -- it's where he does his best work. Where would he be if everybody was home married? The film feels outside of time for a few reasons but its public cruising spaces feel especially of another era -- Henri is the spectre of our past raunch come to haunt us, looking as he does like the cover-man for a sticky issue of Honcho he fits the bill just right.

Stranger by the Lake is not just about man's desire to flirt with our own destruction, it's about our current romanticized notion of the past's hedonism and the place where that fun slams up against another past, one with a less sunny disposition. The movie is, basically, all of gay male sexual history steamed up into one sultry package.

Well maybe not all -- for the actual romance aspect you should make a Pierre Deladonchamps double-feature for yourself of Stranger with Sorry Angel, Pierre's movie out this weekend, aka the reason I'm thinking about Stranger today at all. Cuz in case you hadn't noticed, Pierre Deladonchamps is probably the reigning gay king of the movies, y'all. Here's my review of Sorry Angel. I'll probably post more about this movie this week since I adore, excuse me, j'adore.

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