Vincent Gagliostro’s AFTER LOUIE Gives Us A Lot to Unpack
The film opens with footage of William (David Drake) a man dying of AIDS, intercut with footage of Ronald Reagan and protests during the Reagan presidency. It then smoothly transitions to Sam (Alan Cumming) editing the footage as his recent companion gets dressed and collects most of the money he is owed for his services. As the movie goes on we begin to realize that this opening juxtaposition of Sam’s past and present is key to understanding the character and the film.
Sam is an older gay man who has survived the AIDS epidemic and the Reagan policies of the 1980’s, but has yet to find his footing again after burying most of his friends. He watches his community shift to something he can’t quite recognize,while sidelining himself for the last 15-20 years. He begins to form a bond with a younger man named Breaden (Zachary Booth). Their chemistry pulls us in for a bit, but their conversations about their drastically different experiences of being young men in the LGBTQ+ community is ultimately where the heart of their relationship lies.
The intergenerational relationship comes to a head in an impassioned argument between Braeden and Sam that for this reviewer could’ve easily been one of the last scenes of the film.
A Few Things to Note
While this film is full of great thoughts, excellent arguments that we should be having, from this writer’s viewpoint, it often gets in its own way. Many scenes feel extremely long and unrewarding. There are also many cuts and zooms that make viewing it and digesting it difficult. That said, the entire cast is a pleasure to watch, the messages are important, and the film should definitely be viewed.
The films intentions alone are enough to earn it the right to be studied, discussed, etc. and this writer looks forward to seeing the next Vincent Gagliostro film(s).
Justin Vivian Bond
About the Author
Sharai Bohannon is a playwright, and an avid theatre practitioner, who is very excited to write about most things but especially Chicago Theatre. She has a background in journalism and technical theatre and is excited that those degrees will be put to use in a way that gives her an excuse to leave her couch and brave this “outside” that people keep telling her about. When not on her couch watching TV, she can be found working one of her multiple jobs and/or hunting down a happy hour near you. Read some of Sharai Bohannon’s New Works on New Play Exchange.