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Review: Keep The Lights On

By JAKE MULLIGAN  |  October 10, 2012
4.0 4.0 Stars

Ira Sachs's picture is many things: a snapshot of gay culture at the turn of the century, a brutally personal dramatization of his relationship with author Bill Clegg, a messy look at the realities of addiction, a formally audacious work in the tradition of New York indie cinema. But despite the protestations of its characters, it's never melodramatic. Thure Lindhardt stars as Erik (Sachs's surrogate,) whose phone sex encounter with Paul (Zachary Booth) develops into a decade-long relationship. Stirring compositions capture the two as they reveal themselves, Paul disclosing his crack habit while Erik's addiction to Paul blossoms in its own right. Time lapses and ellipses render the film a diary — the explicit sex and drug use less a provocation than a commitment to truth. In trying to capture a moment in time, Sachs has left nothing uncovered. Navigating his darkest moments with unsparing honesty, he finds a flicker of hope.

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