Tuesday 13 November 2012


After yesterday's high-value, heart-in-mouth entertainment, this one brings me down to earth with a hefty bump.
A largely sombre, totally humourless saga, set in New York, involving a 30s-something documentary film-maker (with a rather attractive, sweet face - here, the one on the left) in an on-off gay relationship with a vacillating young lawyer who can't bring himself to commit. Throw in a bit of casual sex, telephone sex, dope-smoking - and that's about the sum of it.

I think the trouble is that I just couldn't care much about this couple. There's nothing surprising about their difficulties - a lot of us have been through something very similar, maybe more than once. Nothing violent or spectacular happens, the film merely charts the ups and downs of their emotions, leaving me thinking "So what?".
  I was wondering if the whole thing could have been improved by shaving, say, 20 off from the film's 100 minutes, but I doubt if that would have made all that much of a difference.
    No doubt some will relate to the couple's difficulties more profoundly than I did. But, only able to speak of my own experience, I give 'Keep the Lights On' a one stage lower than unremarkable.............3/10.


  1. I'm so envious that I'm considering moving across the pond. The new movies come to you faster in England than they do to me in the USA. I have been so waiting to see this as it has gotten such good buzz - both in the straight and the gay press. Last review that I read, it earned an A.

    It doesn't look like it will play here, so I'll probably have to wait for the release of the DVD and who knows when that will be. Now, I am wondering what my take will be?

  2. I'd stay put a bit longer if I was you, Paul. There are some films which open on your side of the ocean weeks or even months before we get them, even some British ones. Anyway, one has to live within reasonable access to an art-house cinema like I do to catch the off-the-beaten-track type of film. If I lived in northern England for example, unless I was in one of the big cities, there'd be no hope at all of seeing the range of films that I can manage. But I suppose that holds true of most countries.

    Before I saw this particular film I was aware of the praise it was being accorded - though certainly not from all quarters here. But, even so, I tried to detach myself from any preconceptions.
    The film struck me as being loaded with the over-earnestness that pervaded films of the 1970s and 80s major where one or more of the main character(s) was gay - as though the film-makers were trying to say "Look at us; here we are. Now take us seriously!" If the relationship as depicted here were between a hetero couple (which I find quite easy to imagine, save for the attitudes of familial members in this film being so welcoming) I would have found it every bit as dull and unexceptional. Maybe the comparison is a bit absurd in that I doubt if this film was aspiring to be a large-scale international success, but 1969's Dustin Hoffman/Mia Farrow film 'John and Mary' was rather more interesting. It certainly had a lot more light and shade than this film does.
    But as I reckon I'm in a minority, I wouldn't deter anyone from seeing 'Keep the Lights On'. The chances are that they would like it more than I did.