Any Day Now is a simple bauble of a film, a crystallization of sadness and love, strung on a chain and worn close to the heart.
Alan Cumming stars as Rudy, an ostentatious drag queen in ’70s Los Angeles with singing aspirations, who meets a gorgeous lawyer, Paul (Garret Dillahunt), and romance blooms. At the same time, Rudy meets a neighbor kid, Marco (Isaac Leyva) who has Down’s Syndrome and has been abandoned by his junkie mother. Rudy takes Marco in, and together with Paul, begins to form a family.
While Any Day Now is warm, touching and engaging to watch, suspension of disbelief is the name of the game. The homosexual couple have to face scrutiny and disapproval from all corners as they attempt to raise Marco, and their journey seems crammed into too short a time frame. That things would have blossomed so quickly between Paul and Rudy seems unlikely, and the eagerness that Paul displays towards loving both Rudy and taking in mentally handicapped Marco is strangely one dimensional. That it’s based in part on a true story will come as no surprise, as the story lacks the refinement of things that are made up, the easy shortcuts and pat resolutions. Because we exchange the strife of a more complicated relationship, we’re given it in spades as the pair attempt to parent Marco. Mostly you’re just sort of left shaking your head and muttering “No, I don’t think so.”
We’re never privy to much of the mental processing. Too often the characters in the film are simmered down, like so much wine reduction sauce, into a single emotion or movement. We’re introduced to characters, many of whom we actually enjoy, so why not give us a further glimpse into their thoughts and feelings? There’s a kind of compounding heartache at work here, the difficulty of being gay in that time and place, and their insistence on raising a child who is constantly in danger of being taken away from them.
The performances are even keeled and unremarkable, with the notable exception of Alan Cumming (who appears to be bedecked in the most awful wig, although I kept examining his hairline and wondering if it was some kind of shocking mix of wig and real hair). Cumming’s performance is outlandish, enjoyable to watch, and loaded with minute details that would ordinarily escape notice but shine all the brighter in a low budget indie like this, where there’s no outstanding production design or big name talent to distract.
There are of course, other problems. There’s no sex in the movie? I say that as if it’s a question because it feels like there should be. There’s the barest hint of a blow job, the merest feather-light brushing of lips against lips, but nothing that explores the tension of physical contact. The film doesn’t suffer much for the lack of it, it just feels odd, contextually. Alan Cumming’s singing in the film is borderline boring, and actively uncomfortable to watch, but there’s mercifully little of it. The movie suffers from cheapness although it hides it well, never succumbing to overly tacky clothing or sets, instead wielding the budget wisely, and fully committed to taking place indoors, without huge sets or overly complicated visual effects.
For a film so wholly focused in on the story, Any Day Now mostly succeeds. Well, that is to say, while Any Day Now is enjoyable in the moment, it’s a film for an evening, not for all time. Cumming’s performance is notable, and the enormity of the love and affection shown to Marco by both Paul and Rudy is humbling. Rudy and Paul love Marco fiercely, wholly, and are determined to love him for all time. (Of course, Marco is imminently lovable, all quiet observation and timid behavior.)
Mostly, Any Day Now isn’t bad, but it’s not great either.