Dealing with themes of love, sex and intimacy, Keep the Lights On tells the story of Erik (Thure Lindhardt), a Danish artist who lives in New York and meets Paul (Zachary Booth), a closeted lawyer, through a phone sex hotline. They are attracted to one another and have sex. When they see each other again, Erik tells Paul how he broke up with his ex Paolo who was HIV positive. Paul in turn asks Erik to keep quiet about his drug use and gets Erik high. Erik receives some test results from his doctor and finds he is HIV negative.
Two years later several arguments occur, once when Paul catches Erik talking to another man in the street, when Paul goes missing during a dinner, and when Erik is working away from home and calls a phone sex hotline, where he is shocked to be connected with Paul. The men make up. Later when Erik finds Paul unconscious outside their apartment, Paul is sent to rehab.
In 2003 when Paul leaves rehab, Erik thinks everything will be better; however it soon becomes clear that Paul has not improved.
In 2006 after being apart for a year, the two men meet at a dinner. Erik invites Paul to spend the night with him. Paul agrees but manages to avoid having sex with him. Paul eventually gives Erik an ultimatum; he has a few hours to choose between moving in together and breaking up. Erik decides that they should move in together; only to change his mind later on.
“Lindhardt, sweet and childish and achingly vulnerable, gives a stunning performance.”
— Entertainment Weekly
“Not only does this film gloriously fulfill the potential that Ira Sachs has tantalized movie-lovers with for years, it also help explains what took him so long. Out of lost love comes a terrific work of art; it’s the oldest story in the world, but it always feels new when it’s done right.”
“A haunting, immersive portrait of a romance between two men, one that’s marked – and marred – by both drug dependency and emotional codependency. Not unlike last year’s gay-themed drama, Weekend, it proves an important and mature piece of business.”
— Los Angeles Times
Did You Know
The film Keep the Lights On is based on the director’s own relationship with Bill Clegg, a literary agent, who wrote his own memoir detailing his struggles with addiction Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man. The film premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Review our Gay Themed Films here