Travis Fine's Any Day Now is a well-intentioned, 1970s period piece exploring a gay couple's fight to retain custody of a child with special needs. Based on a true story, the film's aims are regrettably matched with an overly melodramatic, tin-eared script that isn't up to the task of breathing life into a scenario that really shouldn't require any punching up at all. It's a film that never surprises, always embracing the safest, most oft-trod path to describing its characters and their conflict. To make matters worse, actors Alan Cumming and Garret Dillahunt pour just about everything they've got into the portrayal of their characters. Their efforts do rescue several scenes from the bland, go-nowhere tendencies of the script, but it's not enough to combat Fine's worst impulses, which continually drag the piece through one tired cliché after another.
Cumming plays Rudy. He's living in a squalid, dump of an apartment building, barely making ends meet and putting up with the loud parties of the junkie (Jamie Anne Allman) who lives next door. When Rudy discovers that his neighbor has left her young son, Marco (Isaac Leyva), without adult supervision, he tries to comfort the boy. When he finds out that she's been arrested, he decides to take in this discarded child with Down Syndrome. Somewhere in between all this, Rudy and Paul (Dillahunt) meet at the bar where Rudy performs as a lip-syncing drag queen. Their attraction is immediate and they act on it. And, whad'ya know, Rudy soon pulls Paul, who works as a lawyer in the district attorney's office, into his attempts to hang on to Marco.
I know what you're thinking. All of this sounds compelling enough, but the film often feels like its trying to fulfill the time requirement to qualify as feature length. It's only 97 minutes long, but, if you took out all the filler (like the parts about Rudy's desire to be a real singer, or Paul's struggle to remain in the closet at work), it might only clock in at barely over an hour. Still, a more streamlined film that kept its focus on the couple's fight to retain custody in the face of rampant prejudice would have been a far more successful film, narrative-wise (witness the similarly-themed accomplishment that was last year's In the Family). What we have here instead is a sad story relayed in a manner that is always sure to indicate when we're supposed to feel sad; cue melancholic music. The cast and story deserved far better.
Any Day Now begins its run at Living Room Theaters on Friday, January 4th. More info available here.
Remember to find and "like" us on our Facebook page.
Subscribe to the blog's feed here.