Keep the Lights On begins in 1997, when openly gay documentary filmmaker Erik Rothman (Thure Lindhardt) first meets Paul Lucy (Zachary Booth), a mostly closeted and very handsome lawyer who works in the publishing field. After what was expected to be a meaningless late-night hook-up turns into a highly-charged encounter, a relationship between the two men begins to develop. The two men quickly move in together, and the nearly decade-long relationship chronicled in the film begins. Individually and together Erik and Paul are risk-takers. The two men’s self-destruction habits, including Paul’s drug and sex addictions, create some major hurdles that the two struggle to overcome.
Uncompromising in how it depicts drug addiction and its impact on the addict’s loved ones and relationships, Keep the Lights On also explores Erik’s struggles to negotiate his own boundaries while latching on to his dream of sharing a life with Paul, no matter what.
Keep the Lights On is based on director Ira Sachs’ own past relationship with Bill Clegg, a literary agent who published “Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man,” his memoir about his personal struggles with addiction, in 2010. Perhaps it is because of his own deeply personal connection with the story that Sachs is able to present a very unflinching portrait of a relationship that is dysfunctional at its core, and in equal measures loving and destructive.
Co-written by Sachs and Mauricio Zacharias, Keep the Lights On also stars Julianne Nicholson, Souleymane Sy Syvane and Paprika Steen. The Drama, which won the 2012 Teddy Award (an international film award for films with LGBT topics) for best feature, is set for a limited release by Music Box Films on September 7, 2012.