Here’s the thing, I would never date a crack addict. In fact, I would never date a person who engaged in recreational drug use. It’s just not anything I want to deal with, nor tolerate.
A couple of years ago I read Bill Clegg’s memoir, Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man: A Memoir. In it, Clegg painfully describes his years of drug use, while his patient boyfriend, Noah, thanklessly tried to get him help. Everything came second to Clegg’s addiction, his family, his boyfriend and his job.
But what about the Noah’s of the world? The ones who watch as their partners descend into the pit of addiction. They wait for their special someone to improve, to see their worth and the worth of everyone around them. Rarely do addicts return from the brink of helplessness.
Noah’s story is beautifully represented in the film, Keep the Lights On. Danish documentary filmmaker Erik, played by a luminous Thure Lindhardt, has fallen in love with Zachary Blooth’s character, Paul. At first it appears that Paul is a recreational drug user, even Erik sometimes indulges his boyfriend by taking a hit from the crack pipe.
Soon though, Paul’s serious mental health addictions begin to surface. He disappears for long stretches of time, doesn’t answer voicemail messages and doesn’t check in with loved ones to assure them that he is okay. Erik is at a loss, he begins losing weight, fearful of Paul’s worsening health.
Keep the Lights On is said to be based on director Ira Sachs’ own troubled relationship. He has made an intimate picture here, both characters powerfully encompass their every scene, Manhattan is nothing but a backdrop. As an audience member I found myself instantly involved in these two people’s lives, hoping that they’d find the peace that everyone deserves.
Here are two individuals who should never have formed a relationship to begin with. They meet via a phone sex chat line, both are very good-looking, but have little substance. A relationship is more than sex, a revelation neither gentleman seem to achieve.
Drugs cause Paul to live carelessly. The couple breaks up, then get back together while Erik tries to help him through rehab. But Paul is undeserved of this kindness. He is selfish, deluded and opportunistic.
It’s possibly one of the most realistic depictions of addiction I have ever watched.