Keep the Lights On

Image: Jean Christophe Husson

“Cutting to the bone with the gentlest of knives… Sachs’ stunner is a front-runner for best American film of the year.” — Eric Hynes, Village Voice

Director: Ira Sachs
Year: 2012
Country: USA
Running time: 101 mins
Censor Rating: R18 - drug use, sex scenes

Screenplay: Ira Sachs
Producers: Lucas Joaquin, Marie Therese Guirgis
Photography: Thimios Bakatakis
Editor: Affonso Gonçalves
Production designer: Amy Williams
Costume designer: Elisabeth Vastola
HDCAM

With: Thure Lindhardt (Erik), Zachary Booth (Paul), Julianne Nicholson (Claire), Souléymane Sy Savané (Alassane), Paprika Steen (Karen), Miguel Del Toro (Igor), Justin Reinsilber (Dan)

Festivals: Sundance, Berlin, Tribeca 2012

Ira Sachs’ New York-set story teases out the light and shade at play in a sexually charged, decade-long love affair between a Danish filmmaker (Thure Lindhardt) and the erratic, demanding American boyfriend (Zachary Booth) he tells himself he can save. It’s a compelling, uncomfortably incisive picture of love sliding into self-sabotage à deux. Sachs (Forty Shades of Blue, Married Life), now married to Boris Torres whose paintings grace the opening credits, has made no secret that the story is drawn from his own experience. It is his own missteps, not those of his erstwhile partner, that are recollected to most clarifying and salutary effect. — BG

“Erik and Paul are complicated, confidently realized creations, and there’s plenty of human commonality to be found in their relationship, no matter what gender you are or whom you go to bed with. But Sachs has clearly decided that there’s no point in pretending that gay society and sexuality aren’t distinctive in many ways…

Like Andrew Haigh’s Weekend, another recent film that feels like a step forward or a step away from the ‘queer cinema’ of the 90s, this isn’t a movie about identity or coming out or facing oppression. It’s an unstinting relationship drama – perhaps consciously modeled on Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage – about two guys who fall in love in the most tolerant and diverse metropolis in America, surrounded by supportive gay and straight friends, and manage to screw it all up with drugs and craziness and horndoggery…

Out of lost love comes a terrific work of art; it’s the oldest story in the world, but it always feels new when it’s done right.” — Andrew O’Hehir, Salon.com

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