Out of the Dark

With Keep the Lights On, his powerful new movie about an ill-fated romance, filmmaker Ira Sachs shines a light on his own sex and drug-fueled past.



There are two forms of addiction happening in Keep the Lights On. Paul is addicted to drugs. Erik is addicted to Paul and trying to rescue him. Both seem equally destructive.
I think that this is a very mutual relationship in which they both choose to go forward in something that is, from the start, loaded against them. I am now a member of Al-Anon and I’ve learned a lot about addiction and co-dependency. I think half the world is prone to these kinds of relationships. When I first met my ex-boyfriend and he pulled out a crack pipe in the first month we were together, my response was, “Let’s move in together and spend the rest of our lives together.” Half the world that would say, “Nice to meet you. Go get some help and come back.” But, half of the world is like me. I was well read, intelligent, generally smart, and so deeply ignorant about the pattern of that relationship and how common it was. Even though I saw this was high octane, bad stuff, I was drawn in immediately. I really believed I could save my partner and that was my job. I also believed without my partner I was nothing.

When did you realize you couldn’t save him?
Not until it was over.

I found myself repeatedly frustrated by these two men. One moment I was rooting for their passionate, beautiful love affair and at other times their relationship was so destructive I was angry at both of them for staying in it. What kind of reaction are you getting from audiences? 
The part that is most rewarding for me is that people very quickly start talking about themselves. I think the film works as a trigger to make people consider their own relationships and the dynamics within those relationships. There is a wide range of responses. The film makes people uncomfortable and it gives people pleasure. It’s a film that encourages people to be introspective.

Tags: film