In After Louie, the director Vincent Gagliostro draws from his past as an ACT UP activist for this occasionally didactic, if consistently engaging debut about one man's survivor's guilt over emerging unscathed from the AIDS crisis. Sam (Alan Cumming) is a middle-aged man who is all about the work. In this case, he's a visual artist toiling away on a film about a friend felled by AIDS, which entails replaying 20-year-old home videos, waxing nostalgic for the heady days of ACT UP, and failing to engage with the present. That starts to change when he meets Braeden (Zachary Booth from Keep the Lights On), a pretty twentysomething in an open relationship.
Sam assumes he's a sex worker, and treats him accordingly. Braeden could use the money, so he takes it, but he's genuinely interested in Sam. He also challenges biases and prejudices around heteronormativity and feminization that Sam has never fully acknowledged. As an actor, Booth can't quite keep up with Cumming, but Braeden is likable in ways that the cynical Sam is not, so it evens out in the end. If Sam can be exasperating, he stands for every embittered activist who irritates everyone around them, but who really and truly helped to make the world a better place.