LEAVE THE LIGHTS ON director Ira Sacks
When WEEKEND the British indie directed by Andrew Haigh broke out of SXSW in 2011, gay/queer film making finally came of age and could drop the descriptive sexual orientation adjective as a marketing tool. WEEKEND told a universal story of a chance hook up , sexual intensity, and desire. The fact that the two lead characters were men and the story a same sex love story was not the critical issue. What was, was the human universality of attraction and the consequences of venerability. WEEKEND prepared the way for the centrality of human experience that LEAVE THE LIGHTS ON explores.
We meet an adult son of a wealthy family who calls himself a filmmaker and is trying to make a documentary that will prove to his family and himself that he is not just about being fashionably artistic. The politics of mainstreaming homosexuality have presented an image of assimilation that seems to say we are all the same except for how we have sex .
Well yes and no.
Ira Sacks to his credit brings the reality of how gay men have sex and fall in and out of love that is almost universally absence in cinematic portrayals of homosexuals.
Sacks is a critically acclaimed filmmaker who won the Grand Jury prize at Sundance for 40 SHADES OF BLUE, a film about an outsider’s desire to conform. The best film making is when a director brings personal insight into the complexity of the script. Sacks is fearlessly personal in his commitment to reveal the complexity of a relationship going bad because of one partner’s crack addiction and the other’s desperate belief that love will cure him. This is a middle class love and addiction story, Not a new story, but historical theme in modern dress.
Erik, (Danish actor (Thure Lindhardt), the documentary filmmaker and Paul, (Zachary Booth, Damages) a closeted lawyer, deliver brave performances that portray the couple’s 10 year relationship. It is a story of toxic love, the seduction of enabling and the devastation of addiction and consequences of venerability. Lindhardt plays the filmmaker with a sensitivity that will mine any memory the viewer may have of a personal situation the stills lies buried in painful repression.
Secondary roles are expertly cast with Julianne Nicholson radiant as Eric’s best female friend Sacks is able to make seemingly normal those things that are different in the lives of gay men without making an assimilation's dream come true fairy tale.
KEEP THE LIGHTS ON is a breakthrough film and possibly the best American indie film of the year!
Not pretty, but like life itself, sometimes romantic and deeply complicated.
The soft, sad, hypnotic, sexy music of Arthur Russell is perfect. A contemporary soundscape for the soul sonics the film requires. Brilliant choice on Sacks’ part. Arthur Russell "Lets Go Swimmng" remix Walter Gibbons Audika records
Yes, KEEP THE LIGHTS ON says that gay males are different. It is a story that regardless of your sexual orientation is located in the human experience and resonates across all identify boundaries. But, and this is the critical turning point, Sacks shows how emotions are not defined by sexual orientation. By doing so Sacks like Haigh opens the door to commonality of emotional resonances across all the barriers that identity politics have created.
A must see movie. Oh did I say it is sexy too? Very sexy
trailer: keep the lights on