“After Louie” is a meta-drama about AIDS history, on how younger men perceive it today, and how younger men react when older gay men who survived (like me) get sanctimonious with them. The film is directed by Vincent Gagliostro, a former ACT UP activist, and
There’s a fairly intricate backstory and setup. Sam, now about 55 and pretty nimble (even if sometimes “The Cigarette Smoking Man”) and apparently living in Bed-Stey as a hipster painter, has taken on a film project about a friend, William Wilson, who had died some time back. Wilson had in turn told the story of another Act-Up activist, Louie. A drag queen Rhona (Justin Bond) recalls the memorial service as a summer Christmas party, with no eulogies.
But Sam’s life takes a turn when he meets the still-young 29-year-old Braeden Devries (Zachary Booth), tall, thin, muscular and articulate (that is, a bit Milo-like), another artist, whose personal charisma dominates the film. Sam is attracted only to younger men, and leaves a $500 tip in Braeden’s shoe the first night, making Braeden “the accidental hooker”. But Braeden already has a boyfriend of contemporary age, a hairy chested shorter man Lukas (co-writer Anthony Johnston), with whom he shared a basement Brooklyn flat. A plot complication will be that Lukas is HIV-positive with undetectable viral load because of successful modern protease inhibitors. But he doesn’t tell Sam — they use condoms, but Sam is actually the aggressor. There are lines about the pleasure inherent in the implicit shame of being the “bottom man”. You could certainly get into the issue of health care coverage for both PrEP and protease, which might be at risk with the Obamacare repeal issue now.
There is a bizarre sequence two-thirds through the film where Sam finger-paints Braeden, especially his chest which fortunately had evolved as naturally hairless, however cis Braeden seems otherwise. All of this sets up a climatic scene in Sam’s studio where he tries to set up a kind of art-show and party. There’s also a curious bathtub scene at a party with Braeden and Lukas.
The film was screened by Reel Affirmations on World AIDS Day at the HRC Center December 1, 2017, with Rayceen Pendarvis hosting.
The film could be appreciated in relation to “How to Survive a Plague” (2012) by David France.
|Director, writer:||Vincent Gagliostro, Anthony Johnston|
|When and how viewed:||HRC Auditorium, 2017/12/1, full attendance|
|Companies:||(individually produced, no distributor named yet)|
(Posted: Saturday, December 2, 2017 at 7:30 PM EST)