Metascore
82

Universal acclaim - based on 26 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 26
  2. Negative: 0 out of 26
  1. Reviewed by: Liz Beardsworth
    Feb 17, 2014
    100
    Beautifully crafted, sinister, frightening, erotic and thought-provoking, Alain Guiraudie’s multi-faceted Cannes triumph is already one of the most provocative, intriguing films of the year.
  2. Reviewed by: Michał Oleszczyk
    Jan 24, 2014
    100
    Guiraudie's directorial assurance is stunning: the entire movie is a master class in audiovisual storytelling, as well as an exemplary case of immersing the viewer in an environment.
  3. Reviewed by: Melissa Anderson
    Jan 21, 2014
    100
    Stranger abounds with precision and detail, evinced not just in the spectacular visual composition but also in the observation of behavioral codes in carnally charged spaces.
  4. Reviewed by: Adam Nayman
    Jan 16, 2014
    100
    Spare, steely, sexually explicit in a way that transcends mere provocation, Stranger by the Lake is vital cinema.
  5. Reviewed by: Diego Costa
    Sep 15, 2013
    100
    Alain Guiraudie's film portrays cruising as a danger-seeking and astoundingly repetitive affair, intimately linked to death itself.
  6. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    Jan 30, 2014
    90
    The filmmaker constructs a growing sense of dread with the calculated precision of a classic horror movie.
  7. Reviewed by: Bilge Ebiri
    Jan 24, 2014
    90
    The mystery may be resolved, but the suspense and uncertainty remain. And so, Guiraudie ends his film on a cold, almost cruel note of existential solitude that just might, if you let it, break your heart.
  8. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    Jan 22, 2014
    90
    Even when the plot kicks in and the stakes get raised, there’s a casualness to Guiraudie’s approach that’s singular and admirably defiant of genre expectations. He’s setting a scene. Tension insinuates itself later.
  9. Reviewed by: Boyd van Hoeij
    Sep 15, 2013
    90
    This is essentially an absorbing and intelligent exploration of queer desire spiced up with thriller elements.
  10. Reviewed by: Bob Mondello
    Jan 24, 2014
    85
    Stranger by the Lake has become a psychosexually intriguing blend of Alfred Hitchcock's "Rear Window" and William Friedkin's "Cruising" — one in which sex gets intertwined with murder, fear battles desire, and the police discover that voyeurs don't necessarily make good witnesses if no one ever exchanges names or phone numbers.
  11. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Jan 15, 2014
    83
    The movie is voyeuristic, sure, but in a way that evokes Alfred Hitchcock's "Rear Window" more than William Friedkin's "Cruising."
  12. Reviewed by: Jessica Kiang
    Sep 15, 2013
    83
    Guiraudie creates an ambiance of eerie atmospherics that is at once crisp and observant, and oddly dreamlike, or nightmarish.
  13. Reviewed by: Robbie Collin
    Feb 26, 2014
    80
    Guiraudie’s film is acutely brilliant on the funny, scary machinery of desire, and how easily humans can get caught up in its cogwheels.
  14. Reviewed by: Kevin Harley
    Feb 18, 2014
    80
    Sun, sex, psychosis, skinny-dipping: it sounds like genre tat, but Guiraudie’s dark, droll study of a risky attraction upends expectations. It plays by stealth, but its sly grip is sure.
  15. Reviewed by: Keith Uhlich
    Jan 21, 2014
    80
    Though Stranger by the Lake leans a bit too heavily on its long-take, slow-cinema bona fides, there’s a clear purpose to Guiraudie’s rigorous perspective. He’s out to unearth the very potent (and often terrifying) emotions underlying every explicit act, sexual or otherwise.
  16. Reviewed by: Peter Bradshaw
    Jan 13, 2014
    80
    The tired old trope "erotic thriller" does no justice to how confrontationally and explicitly sexual this movie is — nor how thrilling, nor how menacing and complex.
  17. Reviewed by: Jordan Mintzer
    Sep 15, 2013
    80
    Stranger by the Lake invites you into its alluring and peaceful world, only to gradually uncover the darkness beneath it.
  18. Reviewed by: Jamie S. Rich
    Mar 27, 2014
    75
    Stranger by the Lake is one of those vacations that’s all right while it’s happening, but the allure dissipates once you’ve gone back to your regular routine.
  19. Reviewed by: Stephanie Merry
    Mar 6, 2014
    75
    Writer-director Alain Guiraudie takes an all-natural approach to his material, and not just because most of the men spend the movie in the buff. He takes long, lingering shots, never rushes a scene and uses no score, just organic sounds.
  20. Reviewed by: Peter Keough
    Feb 20, 2014
    75
    What Stranger by the Lake lacks in suspense and back story it makes up for in atmosphere: It’s a subtle exercise in the pathetic fallacy.
  21. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Feb 6, 2014
    75
    The movie is filled with graphic sex scenes that leave nothing to the imagination — this film would make even John Waters blush — but there’s more at work here than shock value and sensationalism.
  22. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Jan 23, 2014
    75
    Like his characters, Guiraudie is walking a tightrope, finding the point where sex and death exude a similar allure. You won't be able to look away.
  23. Reviewed by: Ben Kenigsberg
    Jan 22, 2014
    75
    As withholding as it may be in terms of narrative, Stranger places rare faith in the viewer’s visual sense. Guiraudie presents his widescreen long takes with little inflection, conjuring suspense simply from the sounds of crackling leaves and other hallmarks of the natural (or is it au naturel?) realm.
  24. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Jan 23, 2014
    70
    Stranger by the Lake is seductive and fascinating, but it is also a bit trapped in its own conceit, and in its carefully maintained emotional detachment.
  25. Reviewed by: Anthony Lane
    Jan 22, 2014
    70
    Stranger by the Lake, it must be said, flirts with monotony. There is something both fascinating and numbing in the rituals on display, and in the matching rhythm of the film's approach. [27 Jan.2014, p.79]
  26. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Feb 6, 2014
    50
    Stranger by the Lake has no rating, but if it had, it would earn an NC-17 ten times over.
User Score
6.0

Mixed or average reviews- based on 30 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 8
  2. Negative: 1 out of 8
  1. Feb 2, 2014
    7
    It's a good movie with some intriguing thriller elements to it, but I'm getting tired of these films that don't have an ending. Sure, there are two or three ways the thing could go at the final frame, but you've got to pick one, writer & director! It undercuts a quality film. Not choosing is half-assed. Full Review »
  2. Jan 26, 2014
    4
    Am in two minds about this film. I didn’t like it. The story of a serial killer at work in a small gay cruising community. Seemed almost anti-gay. On the other hand, though, no question but that it was powerful. Almost theatrical, with a limited number of repeated sets. It's like a series of repeated scenes, with each scene moving the story on. You can admire the film-making craft, But there were puzzling elements, annoying details too. In the end I decided to read the film as an AIDS allegory …. but maybe that was from a desire to make sense of what would otherwise be a nasty & pointless thriller. Full Review »
  3. Jul 7, 2014
    5
    One person finding themselves in love with a murderer is as old as moviemaking itself, but with Stranger by the Lake, Guiraudie finds a new and captivating way to present that tale. By the end of the first half, I found myself wanting more. Unfortunately, the second half taught me to be careful what I wish for. Full Review »