Sunday, March 3, 2013

Dim All the Lights Sweet Darling (Movie Review: Keep The Lights On)

All movies tell a story, some seek to understand people, others define history. But only few show human emotion at its real core. "Keep The Lights On" is not just a movie, it's a mirror of vulnerability, of ache, of passion, of hurt. It's a mirror of life. 

The movie starts in 1998, as a documentary filmmaker, Paul (played excellently by Thure Lindhardt)  is on a phone sex line trying to initiate a hook up. One of his trysts lead him to Erik, (Zachary Scott) a closeted lawyer. They see each other again. It is kind of a romance, but like most relationships, it is difficult to define. The woman in the triangle disappears, but another obstacle resurfaces: Erik's drug problems. And that proves to be a more formidable third party. As years go by (the movie ends in 2007) we see them try to connect, try to unchain themselves from each other, but they end up failing in both. It begs the question - what attracts us to some people, what makes us stay in relationships, what feeds our feelings for and against. It is complex, and this film shows the aching complexity. Director Ira Sachs has made a truly authentic movie - even the pots and pans seem honest. There seems a deliberate attempt for us to feel exasperated by their relationship. As we become tired of them getting back together for the nth time, we cannot help but think and imagien how the characters feel. Lindhardt and Scott show an intimacy that is frighteningly real that makes this two million times more real than any reality show out there. There is one heartbreaking scene towards the end when they try to make a decision and you know where the film is going, but you know it shouldn't go there. And even as the film makes a resolution of some sort, you are still unsure of what happens to the characters.

This is the kind of movie that is richly layered that you probably miss a nuance or two first time around. I plan to watch it again, and I bet the ache will still be there, if even heightened by familiarity. Sometimes you get so jaded and numb by life. A mirror of life, like this movie, awakens.

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