REVIEW: ‘Any Day Now’

To read an interview with star Alan Cumming, click here.

Rudy (Alan Cumming) is a defiant drag queen, and a survivor — the kind who tells a policeman to fuck off because he’s tired of being rolled by homophobic cops even when he hasn’t done anything wrong. Rudy struggles to make rent in the cheap apartment building also occupied by an uncaring neighbor — a junkie who leaves her Down Syndrome son alone while she scores.

When Rudy enlists one of his tricks, Paul (Garret Dillahunt), a lawyer in the D.A.’s office, to help him obtain custody of the boy, Marco (Isaac Levya), we set off on the road of gay family drama — think Queermer v. Queermer.

The emotional arcs of Any Day Now will be familiar to anyone who has seen a chick-flick tearjerker, but this film is a step above. Of course, there’s the timely nature of it (gay adoption), even though set in the 1970s when we know things never went well for gay folks or the disabled. (The pervasive suspicions about gay people will anger you. Even the gay people at the time weren’t too keen on their own striving for suburban domesticity.) There’s the indie energy and commitment to authentic portrayals of gays by Cumming, who dives head-first into his role as a Mama Grizzly. And there’s the heartbreaking performance by Leyva, a non-professional actor in a stand-out debut. (There are numerous cameos by a host of good actors: Frances Fisher, Gregg Henry, Kelli Williams, Michael Nouri.)

Sure, cliches abound, from the closeted Paul’s continual denials of a relationship with Rudy even when the opposite is obvious to Rudy’s aspirations as a singer and repeated disappointments to the stiff, anti-gay reactions of authority figures (echoes of Philadelphia are apparent) to the retro-’70s look has become its own genre in recent years. But Cumming, Dillahunt and Levya make such a stellar ensemble, so in touch with the truth of gay relationships (which are portrayed as difficult but real), that Any Day Now becomes easily a welcome addition to the too-small canon of gay films that speak to issues of heart, not just of the loins. What’s wrong with a few tears being jerked in a gay film instead of some other parts?

Three stars. Now playing at Landmark’s Magnolia Theatre.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones