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Any Day Now (Music Box Films, R)

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film any-day-now_75The conclusion of the film, which comes after you think the story is over, is at the same time absolutely chilling and incredibly moving, the more so because the filmmaker underplays his hand.

 

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We all like to criticize film awards, but they have their uses. For instance, they can bring attention to, and motivate theatrical releases for, films that might otherwise have gone straight to video and a much diminished viewership. One movie that has really benefited from the awards system is Any Day Now, a festival darling with a slew of honors to prove it, including audience awards from the Seattle International Film Festival, the Chicago International Film Festival, and the Tribeca Film Festival. Now Music Box Films is bringing Any Day Now to theaters just in time for Oscar consideration. I do hope the Academy is paying attention, particularly to the fine lead performance by Alan Cumming.

The story of Any Day Now centers on two gay men who try to gain custody of a neglected teenager with Down syndrome. Cumming plays Rudy Donatello, a drag performer who can barely afford the rent on his scuzzy apartment and has a tendency for temperamental outbursts at the most ill-advised moments. His next-door neighbor, Marianna (Jamie Anne Allman), is more interested in drugs and partying than in taking care of her son, Marco (Isaac Leyva), and when she is arrested, Marco is left alone in the apartment. Rudy finds him there and decides to care for him, despite not really knowing the boy, having no parenting experience, and not being in the best of financial circumstances himself. Fortunately, Rudy has just made the acquaintance (and then some) of a handsome lawyer Paul (Garret Dillahunt), who’s in the closet but is willing to help guide the two through the legal maze that is intended to protect the best interest of children but sometimes does just the opposite.

This being the 1970s, Rudy and Paul claim to be cousins, a ruse that doesn’t work for long, particularly after Marco draws a picture of his “two dads” and proudly shows it to his teacher (Kelli Williams). Homophobes come in all stripes in this film, from the overtly hateful to the merely conventional.

Any Day Now is set in the 1970s, based on real events, and one of its best accomplishments is its feel for the period. Some of the credit for that achievement should go to the technical crew—including costume designer Samantha Kuester, production designer Elizabeth Garner, and art director Ashley Prikl—but a lot is also due to the fact that the original screenplay was written by George Arthur Bloom more or less contemporaneously with the events described. Director Travis Fine revised Bloom’s screenplay, but without making the characters into children of the 21st century: We’re still arguing about gay adoption today, but in the 1970s, most people would have considered the idea preposterous, and, like many of the characters in this film, wasted little time in telling you so.

Unfortunately, the screenplay is still the weak link in this film, with key events happening too quickly, and far too conveniently, to withstand even the most determined suspension of disbelief. However, the acting is so good, and the music (by P.J. Bloom, also the music supervisor for Glee) so well chosen, that you can almost overlook the screenplay’s faults. Regardless, Fine got one thing absolutely right: The conclusion of the film, which comes after you think the story is over, is at the same time absolutely chilling and incredibly moving, the more so because the filmmaker underplays his hand. | Sarah Boslaugh

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