Review of KEEP THE LIGHTS ON

I really enjoyed Ira Sachs previous feature, MARRIED LIFE, so I was looking forward to watching his latest.  Thure Lindhardt stars as Erik, a filmmaker whose addicted to phone sex lines.  He has fleeting affairs with random dudes as he struggles to find his focus in life.  He meets Paul, who works for a publishing company.  The two hit it off extremely well and thus begins an intense relationship.  The problem is Paul is a drug addict and it keeps getting in the way of his life and loved ones.  The whole movie expands a decade following the on again/off again romance between Erik and Paul.

I have no problem blasting a studio film if I hated it, but when a film is made on a low-budget and an obvious labor of love for a filmmaker, it makes it hard to write anything negative about it.  This film has been receiving pretty good acclaim from the nation’s top critics, so I kind of feel like that maybe I have missed something.  Because I flat-out hated it!  Now, before I go into why I hated it, I will say that the lighting is good……  and, um…. well, yeah…… the lighting is good.

This is a gritty film and I normally love those types of stories, but it all has the feel of a pretentious film student desperately trying to make a statement with his thesis film.  It’s extremely overwrought with laughable melodrama, and all of the secondary characters just seem like storytelling tools to get help get the main characters from one segment to the next.

I really don’t want to berate an actor.  I know it’s a tough job, as I have acted myself… but Thure Lindhardt is terrible.  His accent makes his performance even more laughable.  He spends most of the film whining, and when he’s flirting, he still sounds like he’s whining.  It’s one of those stereotypical homosexual characters that you would never believe exist in real life.  And having him be a filmmaker didn’t really have anything to do with the main plot, and it certainly doesn’t help the viewer know the character any better.  Lindhardt’s acting is like a slightly better performance of Tommy Wiseau’s work in THE ROOM.  Maybe I’m being too harsh, but that’s how I felt during my initial viewing.  Zachary Booth as Paul isn’t any better.  He’s not laughable, but he’s so boring, dull and bland that it’s a miracle anyone would ever find him interesting enough to date.

The script felt like 1994 melodramatic trash written by a film student.  Every plot twist and turn is so contrived.  The drug use is not handled well at all.  It’s so over-the-top that it felt like a public service announcement.  So just to save you the time:  Drugs are bad and can ruin relationships.  Wow!  I didn’t know that!  Thanks!     Sheesh!

Like I said, a lot of critics are praising it for its honesty, which makes me giggle.  Maybe I’m wrong probably wrong.  But I hated this movie so much.  It was a real chore to sit through this tedious, predictable independent labor of love.  I wish Sachs all the best in future endeavors, but man, his latest rubbed me the wrong way.  ½ (out of ★★★★)

– Not rated but contains strong language, graphic sex scenes and nudity, and drug use.

– Running time: 1hr 42min.



Categories: Austin Kennedy, Reviews

Tags: , , , , , , ,

1 reply

Trackbacks

  1. Austin’s Worst Films of 2012!!! «

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: