Movie Review: ‘After Louie’

Review by James Lindorf

After Louie is the feature film debut of director Vincent Gagliostro. It stars Alan Cumming (Goldeneye, X-Men 2) as Sam, a renowned artist who was a leader of a moment, of a generation, when he helped fight for the rights of those afflicted with AIDS and the queer community as a whole. Now, 20+ years later, Sam feels lost. He’s lost in a community he doesn’t recognize anymore and has lost his place in the fight. He wants and needs to continue the fight, but he doesn’t know who or what to fight for anymore. Sam puts his lucrative art career on hold to try and embrace the past by making a documentary about his friend and fellow leader who died from complications caused by AIDS. Things begin to change for Sam when he meets a young man named Braeden, played by Zachary Booth (Damages, The Beaver), who represents the worst of the contemporary gay community but someone Sam can’t help lusting for.

I enjoyed this movie for its performances. It is beautifully acted by Cumming, Booth and all of the supporting cast. It feels like a story that was inspired by true events, even if we didn’t get the “based on true events” tagline. The film was well shot, even if cinematographer Aaron Kovalchik did include random clips of film reel editing elements. I think those clips would have made more sense if the focal point was Sam’s producing of the film. Instead, his film, like most of the plot lines in the movie, is just one in a series of events happening concurrently while he is trying to find himself. His arc may not have taken place without all of them, but one wasn’t more critical than the rest. I think the fact that nothing comes across as the key factor leaves the film feeling muddled. Sam is going through life unfulfilled and uncertain of how to change that, and then one day, through a series of unconnected events, he has been changed.

I enjoyed the film’s point of view of someone who once fought a civil rights battle and how they must see the modern world. When you live in the past, looking for a fight, you can’t appreciate what you have accomplished. I think the film is saying that the best place to be is somewhere in the middle; not as content as Braeden but not as unrelenting as Sam, to live happily in the pursuit of something even better. While the film possesses the coarseness of a first-time director and inexperienced writing, it does have some powerful moments that will ring true with the right crowd and is worth a watch.

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