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This indie romance is stark, unruly, and particularly nice-looking in high-definition....
Music Box / 101 Minutes / 2012 / Unrated / Street Date: January 22, 2013
Ira Sachs' Keep the Lights On is as harsh as it is intimately profound. This tale of two men trying to find an equilibrium in their relationship defaults to Lifetime-Television plot points at times, but it nevertheless is able to present snapshots of confused, passionate love between people that elevates its often pedantic narrative construction.
Our two protagonists here are Erik (Thrue Lindhardt) and Paul (Zachary Booth). Erik is a relatively free-wheeling documentary filmmaker as well as a proudly 'out' gentleman, while Paul stills clings to his closet, a decision that leads him to adventure with crack as an attempt to further numb his identity. There are ups, there are down, and the two try their damndest to figure out how to make their connection last.
It's perhaps a somewhat uneven affair, but you root for Erik and Paul by the time Keep the Lights On enters its half-way point. Sachs infuses his characters with truly life-life nuance and detail that even if it becomes clear that we've seen these guys' story before, his film still feels fresh and incisive: it has something to say. It's often unpleasant to watch - what relationship isn't? - but Keep the Lights On frequently enthralls.