Erik, a young immigrant documentary director lives in New York City. While it is never clearly defined, Erik appears to be a sex addict, routinely venturing online to find men interested in one night encounters. During one of his sexual encounters he meets Paul, with their mutual attraction eventually leading them into a relationship. Ira Sachs' Keep The Lights On is a striking portrait of a self-destructive relationship which spans the course of nearly a decade. While the film touches on issues which are specific to homosexuals, this is not really a film about homosexuality, but a story about all troubled relationships that are destined for failure from the beginning. Keep The Lights On is an emotionally effective piece of filmmaking because both the characters of Erik and Paul are so well defined. Neither of these characters are portrayed as the bad guy, each having their own faults and strengths as human beings. Erik is a character whose inability to seek emotional support leads him to emotional and even physically-destructive behavior. Erik sees Paul's inability to defeat his crack addiction as a reflection on him as a lover. The story unfolds naturally over this near decade, really doing a great job at capturing just how hard it is to let go of someone you care about, even if it's for the best. Thure Lindhardt gives one of the best performances of the year as Erik, with a brave, sensitive performance that is at times emotionally devastating to witness. For me, Keep The Lights On is a film that really questions the general idea of Love, making an argument that just because two people are in love doesn't mean they should be together. This is showcased by how their respective demons lead these men to an emotionally destructive relationship, with their love for each other preventing them from letting go and finding the help they each need. Keep The Lights On is raw, emotionally poignant filmmaking which touches on issues rarely raised in relationship dramas.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.