Journal of Romance Studies

Logical ‘phallicies’

Challenging the borders of masculinity and morality with a male gay/ze in L’Inconnu du lac

Journal of Romance Studies (2020), 20, (1), 75–89.


The spatial dynamics of dangerous desires in rural French crime thriller L’Inconnu du lac [‘Stranger by the Lake’] (2013) reveal sociological and political implications of marginalized communities at the intersection of space, genre, and identity. In Alain Guiraudie’s thriller film, an all-male, gay community seeks protection from normative masculinity and morality at an exclusive rural lake where a murder occurs. The remapping of forbidden zones and the consequences of dangerous desires demonstrate contemporary anxieties surrounding the nebulous nature of marginalized communities. The construction of the highly stylized space, with rhythmic and sexualized visual and narrative repetitions, challenges the tropes of conventional heteronormative cinema in a reinterpretation of Laura Mulvey’s male gaze.

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Author details

Piper, Paige