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New-wave queer cinema: ‘Gay experience in all its complexity’

by Ben Walters.

Ira Sach’s new film, Keep the Lights On, follows the decade-long relationship between two men who meet on a New York phone-sex line in 1998. It includes explicit sex and copious drug use; it also includes domestic squabbles, quotidian work hassles and meals with friends, straight and gay. No one comes out or dies, and everything is shown with the same fluid, elegant transparency. “I feel very few films convey the communal nature of urban life these days, the lack of boundaries,” Sachs says. “‘Those are the gays over there’ – that’s not how we live any more.”

Keep the Lights On is at once very good and conspicuously ordinary. Like several other recent features about gay characters by gay directors, it deploys naturalism – often shooting handheld in found locations and using performances that smack of improvisation – to tell a story rooted in psychological specificity, but with universal resonance.

Andrew Haigh’s Weekend, released last year to widespread acclaim, used a similar approach with its story of two guys hanging out after meeting in a Nottingham club. And Travis Mathews’s forthcoming I Want Your Love explores a twentysomething San Francisco artist’s social circle in a comparable style. It’s a peculiarly powerful mode that represents a welcome shift in queer cinema – an embrace of the real.

Read the rest of this article from Guardian.

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