In Manhattan, film-maker Erik bonds with closeted lawyer Paul after a fling. As their relationship becomes one fueled by highs, lows, and dysfunctional patterns, Erik struggles to negotiate his own boundaries while being true to himself.
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It's 1998 and New York City is in a state of intense flux when documentary filmmaker Erik Rothman (Thure Lindhardt) first meets Paul Lucy (Zachary Booth), a handsome but closeted lawyer in the publishing field. What begins as a highly charged first encounter soon becomes something much more, and a relationship quickly develops. As the two men start building a home and life together, each continues to privately battle their own compulsions and addictions. A film about sex, friendship, intimacy and most of all, love, Keep the Lights On takes an honest look at the nature of relationships in our times. Written by
A KVIFF screening of this year's Teddy winner in Berlin International Film Festival, from American director Ira Sachs. It is a detailed dissection of the a tug-of-war gay relationship between Erik and Paul, which soldiers on almost a decade in the present-time (1997-2006).
Thure Lindhardt, the Danish out-of-the-closet actor who has shown the immense stretch in the skin-head gay-romance BROTHERHOOD (2009, an 8/10), transforms himself into a young immigrant documentary director Erik living in NYC, probably sex-addictive, met the dandy boy Peter (Zachary Booth), first time for sexual intercourse, then the mutual attraction brings both into a relationship complex, which encompasses an overt hindrance, Paul's drug-addition, a cliché default even makes for the consistent trappings of gay life, thanks to the barren soil of the genre.
It's hard not to compare this film with last year's indie darling WEEKEND (2011, an 8/10), both stand out among other numerous lesser achievers, but in very disparate ways. KEEP THE LIGHTS ON is a sultry relationship conundrum exhausts one's vigor even dignity to sustain the suffocating love; while WEEKEND concentrates on the bad-timing symptom after a casual sex date which one must cut off his feeling and affection. Different terms, same payoff. Nevertheless, both films have a cracking two-hander cast, in this case, Lindhardt and Booth are fervently suited to their tailor-made roles, especially Lindhardt, literally carries the film on his shoulders to elaborate a not-so-extraordinary script, I do hope he will not be stereotyped into the gay-actor-can-never-act-straight category for his future career.
The film at large is a mean-well, sincere work with some uneasy aftertaste, but never accomplishes itself as a boredom, a welcome 7 out of 10 is my indulgence.
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