Ira Sachs’ Keep the Lights On is not an excessively brilliant film; however, it is one that leaves a solid impression. In beaucoup ways it feels like a filmic portraiture (of the lucidity) of Nan Goldin’s still narrative photography. In this rationality, the film engages with similar subjects to her work – love, sex, addiction, pathos – while also possessing the plucky patina and New York sensibility that traces Goldin’s photographs. What makes both so strong and so convincing is their flaws, their presentation of awkward and unrefined intimacy.
This is similarly what makes the film heartbreaking to see. I realised when watching Keep the Lights On how emotionally attached I am in happy endings and how much I am willing to forgive offenses and wrongdoings. The film laid upon me with what is essentially an unattainable relationship, and yet I yearned for it to succeed despite these contrasts, these diversities.
The story (film) was apparently based on one of Sachs’ romantic relationships and the sincerity of its onscreen portrayal is rough in its representation of the lengths to which we will go for the person we love and we long for. Indeed, Zachary Booth, one of the lead actors, beautifully described the disposition of this film when he mentioned, “This movie is accessible to anyone who is loved, wanted to love or ever had a relationship.”