Keep the Lights On (NR)

Drama 101 September 7, 2012
By Nick Schager
Exhibiting great specificity about gay sexual mores while also rooting its story in tumultuous universal emotions, Keep the Lights On details a long-term romance fraught with turmoil. Like his prior Forty Shades of Blue and Married Life, director Ira Sachs's latest boasts a riveting attention to troubled characters, in this case, documentary filmmaker Erik (Thure Lindhardt) and Paul (Zachary Booth), who meet for anonymous sex in 1998 and spend the next decade struggling to stay together amid Paul's increasingly destructive drug addiction and Erik's consuming need to save Paul from himself. Shooting with acute attention to shifting relationship dynamics and cutting in and out of scenes with a graceful fleetness that's attuned to the rhythms of Erik and Paul's up-and-down affair, Sachs creates an intensely intimate stew of fear, anger, longing, and regret. He's aided in this by a sterling Lindhardt, whose unaffected expression of confused, desperate need is both charming and pitiful, and does much to further illuminate the story's portrait of maturation and the unpleasant —and yet unavoidable—reality that, no matter how ardent, love ultimately can't survive without trust.
Ira Sachs Thure Lindhardt, Zachary Booth, Julianne Nicholson, Souléymane Sy Savané, Miguel Del Toro, Justin Reinsilber Ira Sachs, Mauricio Zacharias Lucas Joaquin, Marie Therese Guirgis Music Box Films

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