Movie of the Year: KEEP THE LIGHTS ON
Ira Sachs’ authentic, explicit, occasionally bruising but ultimately hopeful depiction of the ups and downs of an addiction-fueled gay relationship over the course of a decade emerges as the finest gay-themed drama in several years. Danish actor Thure Lindhardt and Zachary Booth (best known as Michael Hewes on TV’s Damages) command attention throughout as they dance their codependent tango but, to its great credit, the film never becomes histrionic and Sachs treats both wounded men with nothing but compassion. (Booth’s character is actually bisexual, a big-screen rarity.) Contemporary gay-themed movies just keep getting better and better — see previous Dearie Award Movies of the Year A Single Man and Weekend for further evidence of this — and Keep the Lights On now takes the crown.
Perks, starring a post-Harry Potter Emma Watson and rising stars Ezra Miller and Logan Lerman, emerged as one of the year’s biggest indie hits after doing consistent business at the box office for several months. While not primarily LGBT-themed, Miller gives an exhilarating performance as an unapologetically gay high school student in this cross-generational success.
And though the long-awaited movie version of the long-running stage musical Les Miserables didn’t please all fans or critics, it is suffused with enough emotional and spiritual intensity, tortured romance and visual flourishes to fill several movies, not to mention a spectacular lead performance by Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean.
By Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest, Rage Monthly Magazine and Echo Magazine.