Film Review: Any Day Now

This gay custody-battle drama beautifully delivers on every level, especially emotionally.

Set in 1979 Los Angeles, Any Day Now is about the custody battle of a gay couple, Rudy (Alan Cumming) and Paul (Garret Dillahunt), to adopt Marco (Isaac Leyva), a teenager with Down syndrome. Flamboyant Rudy is a drag performer, and Paul, who he’s just met, is a closeted district attorney. Opposites attract, and when Marco, Rudy’s neighbor, drops into his life as a result of his drug-addicted mother being jailed, the three form a little family. However, in a very anti-gay 1970s world, their happiness is continually threatened.

A high level of intelligence and sensitivity distinguish this film, lifting it above soap-opera level and, indeed, way above most gay indie efforts. Director/co-writer Travis Fine has both those aforementioned qualities in spades, along with the essential one of good taste. The 1970s era is perfectly recreated in terms of louche-to-uptight ambiances, vibrant club music, and somewhat disfiguring hair and clothes. The budding relationship between Rudy and Paul is delineated with a wonderfully identifiable warmth and humor, with their interactions having a true, funny complexity that is rare onscreen, regardless of sexuality. The addition of Marco into their mix, due to Fine’s fine approach and the clarity of the characterizations, does not seem any mere mawkish, calculated plot complication, and indeed possesses a certain authentic inevitability. Rachel Morrison’s lovely photography is at all times a treat, finding beauty in unlikely spots in Rudy’s squalid apartment, as well as what seems an eternally dusky Los Angeles.

Leyva has a face-splitting grin and an adorably winning personality which makes you have to stifle a genuine need to go “Aww” after his every scene. (You will definitely need a hanky or at least a sleeve to wipe away some tears, which this film devastatingly earns in the most honest of ways.) Dillahunt has already proved what a superbly attractive farceur he is on TV’s delightful “Raising Hope,” but shows here what a very good dramatic, as well as romantic, actor he is as well. The scruffy chemistry he shares with Cumming is real, and together they make one of the most memorable of all gay movie couples.

Cumming has his best screen outing yet, for the first time really exhibiting the ferocious charisma he displayed onstage as the emcee in Cabaret on Broadway. The movie is periodically lifted into another level approaching the sublime when he performs in the club as Rudy, at one point crooning the France Joli disco hit “Come to Me” with thrilling passion. He makes Rudy a complex yet simply determined-to-be-happy survivor, intensely likeable. You root for him unabashedly the way one rarely does for any film character and, with his tangle of long black hair, humorously rueful acceptance of life’s lemons as well as lemonade, irrepressible joie de vivre and child-nurturing ways here, he reminds me of no one so much as Anna Magnani—and there can be no higher praise than that.