Keep the Lights On


Generally favorable reviews - based on 26 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 26
  2. Negative: 0 out of 26

Where To Watch

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Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Sep 6, 2012
    Lindhardt, sweet and childish and achingly vulnerable, gives a stunning performance.
  2. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Sep 4, 2012
    This is a drama about finding one's self-worth; you simply have to see it.
  3. Reviewed by: Sam Adams
    Sep 5, 2012
    Keep The Lights On feels less like a memoir than a collage made from diary scraps, evocative but not prescriptive.
  4. Reviewed by: Gary Goldstein
    Sep 8, 2012
    A haunting, immersive portrait of a romance between two men, one that's marked - and marred - by both drug dependency and emotional codependency. Not unlike last year's gay-themed drama, "Weekend," it proves an important and mature piece of business.
  5. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Sep 6, 2012
    Its subject is not addiction or ambition, or even love in a conventional romantic sense, but rather the more elusive and intriguing matter of intimacy: how it grows, falters and endures over time.
  6. Reviewed by: Eric Hynes
    Sep 4, 2012
    With its naked but never self-indulgent depictions of sex and all manner of addiction, Keep the Lights On is disarmingly, at times exhilaratingly, human.
  7. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Sep 4, 2012
    Not only does this film gloriously fulfill the potential that Ira Sachs has tantalized movie-lovers with for years, it also help explains what took him so long. Out of lost love comes a terrific work of art; it's the oldest story in the world, but it always feels new when it's done right.
  8. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Oct 24, 2012
    By dropping in on this couple from time to time for the kinds of moments one of them might remember, the film is more honest than its characters.
  9. Reviewed by: Calvin Wilson
    Oct 12, 2012
    The performances are first-rate, with Lindhardt particularly moving as a guy who's in deep denial about just how much he can expect from a relationship with an addict.
  10. Reviewed by: Bob Mondello
    Sep 7, 2012
    The film, though, is as sure-footed as their partnership is not - a nuanced portrait of emotional turmoil, persuasively acted, richly sensual one moment, wrenching the next, and unlike so many films centering on gay characters, not particularly concerned with things like coming out or HIV.
  11. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Sep 4, 2012
    Sachs skillfully explores dangerous extremes -- not only drug addiction, but the slipperiness of attraction.
  12. Reviewed by: Mike McCahill
    Nov 4, 2012
    Every frame pulses with hard-gained experience: it may be the most lived-in film of 2012, and certainly counts among the most moving.
  13. Reviewed by: Elizabeth Weitzman
    Sep 6, 2012
    A well-written, sensitively directed relationship drama. In most circumstances, that's all it would be - and that would be enough. But lead Thure Lindhardt pushes the picture into realms of such exposed intimacy, you almost feel like you're dating him yourself.
  14. 80
    Sachs hits notes we've rarely heard in gay cinema, in which the hedonist bleeds into the humanist, the ephemeral into the enduring.
  15. Reviewed by: Kimberley Jones
    Nov 1, 2012
    Keep the Lights On feels like a first-rate, late-Seventies experimental student film, or early Scorsese. But then the cycle of addiction takes over the film, and the plot about stagnancy ends up stagnating the film itself.
  16. Reviewed by: David Lewis
    Sep 13, 2012
    The film is at its best in the bedroom, not shying away from the sexual relationship, but not being graphic about it, either. There is great sex, clumsy sex, tender sex - and it's all crucial to the story. Such genuine intimacy, whether gay or straight, is virtually nonexistent in American cinema. It's enthralling to see it here.
  17. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    Sep 7, 2012
    A tough, well-acted little indie.
  18. Reviewed by: Ed Gonzalez
    Sep 4, 2012
    More than just a relationship drama of striking specificity, this is a naked confession about addiction.
  19. Reviewed by: Ray Greene
    Sep 4, 2012
    It seems odd to call a detailed portrait of toxic romance lovely, but Keep the Lights On truly is.
  20. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Sep 4, 2012
    Delicately tracing the troubled nine-year bond between two men living in New York, Ira Sachs mines his own memories to sensitive, melancholy if somewhat muted effect in Keep the Lights On.
  21. Reviewed by: David Rooney
    Sep 4, 2012
    A stiff central performance diminishes its emotional impact, but the visually alluring film's sensuality and tenderness give it a lingering spell.
  22. Reviewed by: Wesley Morris
    Oct 11, 2012
    It's inspired of Sachs to lean on Russell for a kind of oblique emotional depth. But it's possible to leave this movie mistaking Sachs's soul for Russell's.

Awards & Rankings

User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 14 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 3
  2. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. Sep 4, 2014
    An often painful and brutally honest look at love and romance. This film proves that gender makes absolutely no difference... love is love--noAn often painful and brutally honest look at love and romance. This film proves that gender makes absolutely no difference... love is love--no matter how tough love is. A fine debut from Thure Lindhardt as Erik. Full Review »
  2. Nov 10, 2012
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. I don't understand why it's 'hip' to remake material we've all seen before with a 'gay' label. If someone has never had experience with addiction, this film might do something. But it skirts its responsibility to delve deeper into the treacherous aspects of bottoming out and recovery - we go from 'just using' to a full-on intervention full of characters we've never met. And then suddenly, "shazam!" they're procaiming their love for each other again.

    I found the lead actor distracting - nothing against a foreign accent, but this brought nothing to the film except some unwanted comic parody. I didn't find either believable, and feel that this is another 'make a gay movie' from an angle that once all gays see the light and adopt the broken, pathetic marriage and relationship system of straights, the world will then be all good, golden and complete.

    Addiction is a serious disease, and far more rampant in the gay demographic than anywhere else. This film doesn't do much to shed new light, despite the title.
    Full Review »
  3. Oct 22, 2012