“Keep The Lights on” is a gay love story that seniors watching will remember when they were young, impulsive, in love and the hurt that goes along with that period of time. Young man watching it will not see themselves on screen until they become old men remembering the past.
Erik (Thure Lindhardt) is an over 30 filmmaker who seems spoiled, undisciplined, independent and always on the outlook for a sex partner while Paul (Zachary Booth) has a girlfriend (for a minute or two) and is a serious, responsible lawyer who is dependent on those around him. They connect one evening, have sex, and it turns into a ten year off and on again romance between them. The co-writers of this semi-autobiographical screenplay (Ira Sachs and Mauricio Zacharias) really don’t show why these men would get together for that length of time and the audience may not buy it if they have never been in love with the ‘wrong type’.
Being a gay love story it seems almost mandatory that there be scenes showing anal and felatio sex along with a masturbation one, the latter out in the woods to give it ‘meaning. One of the mistakes the director (Ira Sachs) and director of photography (Thimios Bakatakis) make are too many artistic shots adding nothing to the film but time.
While Lindhardt and Booth don’t give award worthy performances most of the time they do make the two men believable. Paprika Steen as Erik’s sister and Julianne Nicholson as his best friend give good support as do Souleymane Sy Savane, Christopher Lenk and Sebastian La Cause.
Many of the production values don’t have to do with enough money in the budget but with technical mistakes. There are many points where the actors are not audible, the music score is a mess and certain locations--what is that country location doing there?--are too busy.
Though being sold as a love story it succeeds more in showing a relationship where each man changes the other, not necessarily a bad thing, and an ending you may not see coming. At an hour and forty-two minutes it would have been a better, tighter, more meaningful movie if cut by 12 minutes.
“Keep The Lights On” is not one of the best, or honest, romance, gay or nongay, stories put on film but so far, this year, it rates high.