Thursday, March 1, 2012

Keep the Lights On - Reviews by ELLEN COWPERTHWAITE and CAITLIN WILEY

Keep The Lights On


Director: Ira Sachs

Screenwriter: Ira Sachs and Mauricio Zacharias

The film Keep the Lights On is a film set in New York in the late 1990’s. Erik is an aspiring documentary filmmaker who is a homosexual. He meets Paul, a lawyer in the publishing field. After meeting over the phone then meeting in person for a sexual encounter, their relationship becomes something much more intimate and they become partners. They start to begin to build a life and home together and everything is great until their relationship has some hurdles to overcome. With Paul battling addiction they try to make their relationship work. Erik who loves Paul so much tries very hard for things to work out, despite the problems Paul has. The love they have for each other is strong, but not strong enough to overcome the problems they face. The story is about friendship, intimacy, and love. We get a look into a real relationship between two homosexuals with all of the ups and downs and what they go through.

On a mainstream independent scale, I would rate this film an eight making it very independent. I give it that rating because the content has a more narrow audience appeal, it isn’t a subject that I would see a broader, mainstream audience watching. The characters are multidimensional, they have lots of different aspects to their character and there are few characters in the film. It mostly focuses on just Paul and Erik.

The film has a mythical dimension to it in the way that it challenges the dominant American value of heterosexuality. This film is about two homosexuals who form a relationship together and build a life with one another. In American society we are used to seeing heterosexual relationships, but here we see a homosexual relationship that goes through the same up and downs that heterosexual relationships go through: the challenges of being faithful, of fighting, of disagreeing. They face the same issues and more than heterosexual relationships face, which is challenging.

I thought that it was very interesting that this film was telling an autobiographical story. The filmmaker was telling a story about his own life, and that made it so much more real and sad when I heard him talking in the Q&A. It was interesting to see him say he was even dealing with this relationship the first time he made it into Sundance with a documentary feature, a film that won a Sundance award - something that is referenced in this narrative film. I would recommend this film for others to see.

Keep the Lights On


Director: Ira Sachs

Screenwriter: Ira Sachs, Mauricio Zacharias

Keep the Lights On is about a gay couple struggling to make things work. Paul and Erik start a relationship and have a very deep connection. Their relationship lasts over 10 years with many ups and downs. Paul has a drug addiction and Erik has to pull Paul’s weight throughout the entire film. Erik won’t give up on his lover Paul and ends up getting hurt in the long run. Erik has to fight Paul’s drug addiction while he loses touch of who Paul really is. The film focuses on how their relationship starts off so well and becomes incredibly dysfunctional throughout the years.

I would rate this film ultra independent because of the story and the actors. The actors are very unknown, but seem to have a good connection to their characters in the film. The story focuses on a gay couple struggling to maintain their relationship. This would not be a mainstream film because it focuses on a homosexual relationship, and the mainstream audience is used to seeing heterosexual relationships. I feel the mainstream audience would be uncomfortable with the sex scenes because they are used to seeing a man and a woman having sex. The story of their love is a typical love story, but it is independent because they are gay.

This film challenges the myth that relationships have to be between a man and woman. It questions the norm of heterosexual relationships and compares them to a homosexual relationships. It is trying to show how homosexuals and heterosexuals have similar problems in their relationships. The film also challenges drug abuse because in the American culture drugs appear to be okay when you’re having fun. This film challenges that because Paul's crack addiction ruins his life and relationship with Erik. Films such as the Hangover praise drug abuse for comedic purposes. Paul’s crack addiction highlights the seriousness of drug abuse and how it can cause your life to go into a downward spiral.

I would recommend this film to people who are interested in homosexual relationships because it is the main focus of the film. It goes deep into the feelings between Paul and Erik and the disintegration of a relationship. Even though they are gay men, many people can relate to the problems Paul and Erik deal with. If the audience can put their biases about homosexual relationships aside, they can genuinely connect to film as our class did.

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