›› Keep the Lights On ‹‹

a film by Ira Sachs.

2012 | 102 mins | US.

a remarkably honest portrait of a dysfunctional relationship.

Dave says:

Some films stay with you long after the end credits have rolled and this intense relationship drama is one of them. Then again, is that of any surprise when co-writer and director Ira Sachs of The Delta and Love Is Strange fame here delights in taking you on an all too realistic emotional roller coaster ride.

For here cue the late '90s and Danish filmmaker Erik Rothman (Thure Lindhardt) is a man with a-liking for anonymous sex; forever cruising the Manhattan 'phone lines that tonight see him sample the physical charms of closeted lawyer Paul Lucy (Zachary Booth). Yet what was meant to be a one-night stand soon develops into a more permanent relationship, as the two men start to build a life together, whilst privately battling their own demons that ultimately threaten to destroy their very relationship.

Told dateline fashion and intercut with scenes of a movie-within-a-movie courtesy of Erik's documentary tribute to the life and times of Avery Willard, this bittersweet, yet deeply touching work shines the cinematic spotlight on the raw baggage of life, as Paul's addiction to drugs is just as much a compulsive yearning, as Erik's need for casual sex. That both men love each other, is not in doubt. Yet what is equally beyond question is that they would be better off living separate lives, as a threesome of a variant nature should have set alarm bells ringing.

Somewhat let down by its flawed pacing and a number of side characters who in drifting in and out of Erik's life, would have been better served keeping their distance, it nevertheless is the heart-rending frankness of the piece that cuts to its very core, as the two men struggle to keep their seemingly terminal relationship going and here Lindhardt excels as the immigrant director living the New York life, only to see that life turned both upside down and inside out over the course of nine years.

It's a theme that's poignantly handled by Sachs, as he contrasts moments of pure joy with scenes of bitter heartbreak, leaving many no doubt bewildered by Erik's devotion to a man all but hell-bent on self-destruction and here Booth is achingly real in the role. All of which makes for a remarkably honest portrait of a dysfunctional relationship.

›› available as part of the PECCADILLO PICTURES catalogue: 28th January, 2013 / UK.
›› revised: Friday, 18th February, 2022.

Gay Visibility - overt | Nudity - the brief monty | Overall - file under ... 3+ stars

›› copyright © 2022 David Hall - www.gaycelluloid.com ‹‹
›› archive reference #2013012 - revised ‹‹
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