HollywoodChicago.com RSS   Facebook   HollywoodChicago.com on Twitter   Free Giveaway E-mail   

Film Review: ‘Keep the Lights On’ Plays Like Memory of Doomed Relationship

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionE-mail page to friendE-mail page to friendPDF versionPDF version
No votes yet

CHICAGO – Ira Sachs’ intimate “Keep the Lights On” is about the intersection of love and addiction and how the two can rarely exist in the same relationship. It is reportedly at least semi-autobiographical and the film undeniably has the feeling of memory, both in its emotional honesty and its episodic nature. It is a film in which we see snapshots of a long-term love affair that seems doomed from the start. The raw truth of much of it is strong enough to make the sometimes frustrating structure forgivable.

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

One man meets another for a casual sex encounter, after which the closeted of the two says, “I have a girlfriend, by the way. So, don’t get your hope up.” It probably should have ended there. But it doesn’t. Erik (Thure Lindhardt) is a documentary filmmaker who seems to lack a lot of focus in his life, something his sister Karen (Paprika Steen) is quick to point out. During a majority of “Keep the Lights On,” Erik is making a documentary about a barely-known filmmaker named Avery Willard. How he could spend so much of his life on a project that clearly couldn’t pay a bill is not overly explained but it does seem like an important theme, especially given the financial circles in which his new boyfriend runs.

StarRead Brian Tallerico’s full review of “Keep the Lights On” in our reviews section.

That new boyfriend is Paul (Zachary Booth), a handsome young man who is not only more closeted than Erik but faces significant demons of addiction. He disappears for large chunks of time and doesn’t respond to friends or family who try to get him help for his clear drug addiction. In one scene, Paul disappears from a dinner and the next time we see him it’s clear he’s been gone all night (although one doesn’t know if it’s the actual night of the dinner given the episodic nature of the film). As the film progresses, less and less of “Keep the Lights On” is about passion or love and more of it centers on Paul’s addiction.

Can you save someone you only really know sexually? I think that “Keep the Lights On” purposefully leaves out much of the traditional romance elements of films like this one. Sure, Paul throws Erik a surprise birthday party and there seems to be some joy early on in their relationship that is rekindled later with a heartfelt Christmas present but the undertone from the beginning is certainly not one that implies these men were meant to be together. There’s a sense that this is a doomed relationship picture from nearly their first encounter as Paul quickly turns to drugs and long absences. Perhaps Sachs is sketching a portrait of a man who can’t focus on anything – career or love – long enough to save another from addiction even if part of him really wants to do so.

StarContinue reading for Brian Tallerico’s full “Keep the Lights On” review.

“Keep the Lights On” stars Thure Lindhardt, Zachary Booth, Julianne Nicholson, Paprika Steen, and Souleymane Sy Savane. It was written and directed by Ira Sachs. It opens at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago on October 26, 2012.

Keep the Lights On
Keep the Lights On
Photo credit: Music Box Films

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.

Hot stories on the Web


User Login

Free Giveaway Mailing

TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • 47 Ronin with Keanu Reeves

    CHICAGO – If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between a director and a producer, let “47 Ronin” explain how the hierarchy of creativity hinders the evolution of even the most straightforward-sounding pitches. “47 Ronin” is the type of samurai movie set in Japan that features native actors speaking only English, while Keanu Reeves stars as an outsider clearly plunked into the picture for stateside star power.

  • A Field in England (teaser)

    CHICAGO – I can’t recommend this more. “A Field in England” is a flashback and a flash forward all at once. It’s impossible to watch without thinking of great counter culture cinema. In fact when I saw it at Fantastic Fest 2013 it played as part of a double bill with Ken Russell’s “The Devils” (1971). They made perfect cinematic companion pieces. Russell’s film concerned a wayward priest desperate to protect his 17th century city from corruption in the Church only to fall victim to group hysteria when he is, ironically, accused of witchcraft by a jealous nun.

Advertisement


HollywoodChicago.com on Twitter

archive

HollywoodChicago.com Top Ten Discussions
referendum
tracker