Keep the Lights On - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Keep the Lights On Reviews

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Super Reviewer
December 9, 2015
The kind of gay-themed drama that is becoming increasingly rare nowadays: one that is brutally honest and devastating like real love can be when ruined by drug addiction and by one person's dependence on another - which, if at first enraging, earns its place as the true core of the story.
jjnxn
Super Reviewer
½ July 8, 2013
Mind numbingly dull.
Bill D 2007
Super Reviewer
½ October 1, 2012
Think of "Keep the Lights On" as a companion piece to last year's wondrous little film "Weekend" (which was on my Top 10 list of 2011). Gay men, who have played a major role in creating and developing cinema, are FINALLY turning their cinematic attention to gay relationships. It only took 100 years. And we're not talking about superficial melodrama or soft-core porn. There's no beefcake in either one of these films.

These are also not coming-out stories. This is thoughtful, subtle, realistic reflection on the dynamics of adult gay relationships. Boyfriends. Whereas "Weekend" examined a brief affair with the potential to grow into a long-term relationship, "Lights" depicts a long-term relationship -- with many ups and downs. But not for a second is it melodrama.

Writer/director Ira Sachs, who made his first feature film, "The Delta," about 15 years ago (which I haven't seen), brings to life the story of two well-educated Manhattanites who have an anonymous sexual encounter that grows into a 10-year relationship. One is a documentary filmmaker; presumably this at least to some degree represents Sachs himself. The other is a literary agent and book editor.

Thure Lindhart, a Danish-born actor, plays the filmmaker. Lindhart took my breath away two years ago in the Danish film "Brotherhood," which was on my Top 10 List of 2010. It's fantastic to see him breaking into American cinema. I guess I wasn't the only American who noticed "Brotherhood." Zachary Booth plays the literary agent. Booth is perhaps most recognizable as Glenn Close's son in the brilliant TV show "Damages."

After a few years of relative happiness, the relationship runs into serious difficulty when the literary agent drifts into drug abuse. The film doesn't slip down the rabbit hole of lurid drug voyeurism. We don't go along with this man on his weekend-long drug binges. The film is mostly concerned with the emotional wreckage that results after the binge is over. We see the aftermath, not the drug binge.

There's only one scene that depicts one of the binges. And here again, the focus is not on the binge itself so much as the emotional responses of the sober boyfriend who witnesses it. The film also nicely explores the ways that the filmmaker gets emotional support from his diverse circle of family and friends.

But unfortunately the analysis in "Lights" never cuts that deep. It's thoughtful but only in a sketchy way. It hints at ideas more than explores them. The film also is not edited that well and starts to feel repetitious after a while. There's no denying, however, that "Keep the Lights On" is one of the better films of 2012 and a wonderful addition to what will hopefully grow into a sub-genre of serious gay cinema.
Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
½ November 9, 2012
In "Keep the Lights On," Karen(Paprika Steen) gives her brother Erik(Thure Lindhardt), a documentary filmmakerin his 30's, grief over not being able to put his life together. That's even with her not knowing about his phone sex habit which is how he hooks up with Paul(Zachary Booth) who mentions something about a girlfriend after they have sex. That does not stop them from forming a relationship that goes beyond the physical, however. Meantime, Erik's friend Claire(Julianne Nicholson) wants to have his baby while he sweats out an HIV test.

"Keep the Lights On" is a quietly intense and incisive look at a turbulent relationship. As erotic as the movie is, there is one sex scene that has to be one of the most emotionally unnerving I have ever seen. That having been said, the movie has less to do with sex than with addiction and those it affects. Ironically, Erik is an anchor for Paul, otherwise clean cut with a good job compared to Erik who has never been big on responsibility. Throughout, Erik gets glimpses of other potential realities, one of which would be a huge mistake to say the least. Along these same lines, the movie's central weakness is telling it entirely from Erik's point of view which, while building suspense concerning Paul's whereabouts, limits the story in not properly giving Paul adequate definition.
Super Reviewer
½ September 10, 2014
A word of warning: It took me several days to pick myself up off my own puddle of tears after watching this film. Keep the Lights On goes well beyond the boy-likes-boy storyline. It progresses as an alluring and intimate story of two charming men, Erik and Paul, meeting and tenderly falling for one another. But their soon-to-be romance tale is contorted by Paul's consistent drug abuse, landing him in hospitals and rehab centers. The damaging struggles they deal with tear at their relationship in this deeply moving yet cynically somber film. Ultimately, its striking realism makes it important viewing.
Super Reviewer
½ August 14, 2012
If Ira Sachs has a thesis for his film, its that most people form relationships on as many lies as truths and even if that relationship seems right for the moment . . . it can also be so wrong. The intensely personal nature of the film suggests that Sachs had to reopen some painful old wounds to tell this story.
Super Reviewer
February 7, 2013
Sexy, romantic and realistic. It's a modern love story set in New York, where two people with their own difficulties come together and develops a relationship. Friends and family are also important elements in the film, the film has a great ensemble and amazing acting from Thure Lindhardt. The best part in the film is that it shows gay couples have problems of their own too, unlike most other films of this genre where everything goes on smoothly. The direction was brilliant, the timing in the film was brilliant and the soundtrack was great, script was also very cute and natural. It's a must see.
Super Reviewer
February 5, 2013
One of the best movies of 2012 and the best gay movie I've seen in years.
September 7, 2012
"Keep the Lights On" is not a love story, but a story about love -- a character study of affairs, addictions and distractions, bathed in yellow light and New York, and conducted by Thure Lindhart's haunted, lightning-in-a-bottle performance.
½ November 8, 2012
Quietly reeling. My rating stems more from a preference to be so engaged in a film that I feel involved. This wonderful film kept me an mere observer. The film felt like a break from the triptych way films usually tell stories and feels a bit stretched. Some peripheral character points had no clear connective tissue. The final act, although feeling clumsy and repetitive, mimics life when people go through it together one too many times uselessly clinging to something past the expiration date. Some bits of why people are together seem so insignificant yet hold so much power beyond that of reason. What's shown us here is so real, and honest to leave us with no real answers. Before people know it, they're involved with someone and all the somethings that come with it. They reel from it but are committed to fixing things and making it work out, until it doesn't. There are no answers here, people may even wonder how it turned out as it did just when... This story gives us just such preponderance. The film's production quality comes across as low cost, but not cheap nor amateur. The actors are quite good, though could be said, guilty of not putting enough on display...such is life.
½ October 2, 2012
He quedado fascinado con esta pelicula! A pesar de que en produccion tiene detalles no cuidados (como por ejemplo, guardar relacion de autos con epoca, 1998) me encantaron las escenas escogidas para narrar la historia. Lugares para nada comunes! Un tema que pudo ser tratado extra melodramaticamente clichoso no lo fue. Ojo! Si va buscando accion aqui no la encontrara. Tommy la odio!
November 29, 2015
For me this story is uneven and not fully developed I never quite sure what is the catalyst for any of the decisions eric and paul make and in the context of the narrative, while we are meant to feel sympathy or empathy for erik I found him to be a vain and ego driven narcissist, not at all someone I eouod "care" about
April 11, 2015
One of the very few gay films of late that actually has something of meaning to both show and say.
February 13, 2015
It's a wonderful film though many find it incredibly depressing, which doesn't really bother me at all.
January 20, 2015
A real perspective to the harshness of every day life and the doom of relationships.
½ January 11, 2015
Beautifully told and shot, Keep The Lights On really stands out from the crowded field of Gay Indie Films.
January 3, 2015
Great realistic emotional movie!
Super Reviewer
½ September 10, 2014
A word of warning: It took me several days to pick myself up off my own puddle of tears after watching this film. Keep the Lights On goes well beyond the boy-likes-boy storyline. It progresses as an alluring and intimate story of two charming men, Erik and Paul, meeting and tenderly falling for one another. But their soon-to-be romance tale is contorted by Paul's consistent drug abuse, landing him in hospitals and rehab centers. The damaging struggles they deal with tear at their relationship in this deeply moving yet cynically somber film. Ultimately, its striking realism makes it important viewing.
August 19, 2014
Sleek, modern, and grounded in realism, "Keep the Lights On" is an effortlessly effective romance that I didn't want to end.
½ August 7, 2014
An often painful and brutally honest look at love and romance. This film proves that gender makes absolutely no difference... love is love.
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