Title: Any Day Now
Director: Travis Fine
Major Players: Alan Cumming, Garret Dillahunt, Frances Fisher
Out Of Five: Four
It’s night and the camera follows somebody in a light jacket carrying a doll. From behind, we can’t tell if they’re male or female but a quick glimpse tells us it’s male and that he has Downs Syndrome. What we don’t know is that we’re watching a scene which haunts the film throughout and even influences its outcomes.
Any Day Now, just released on DVD, is set in the 70s and is based on true events. Rudy (Alan Cumming) is part of a drag singing act at a gay nightclub, where he meets his soon-to-be partner Paul (Garret Dillahunt), a lawyer in the DA’s office. When Rudy’s neighbour is arrested, she abandons her son, who has Downs, and Rudy and Paul manage to obtain temporary custody. But when they attempt to make the arrangement more permanent, all the prejudices and attitudes of the time close ranks against them.
This is a small film, but it deals with big issues. When it was released in cinemas last summer, it was dominated by the seasonal blockbusters, so it came and went quietly and quickly. But its release on DVD means a second chance to see an emotional film that’s remarkably devoid of sentiment.
The film’s central characters don’t conform to what American society at the time deemed acceptable and they are, to a greater or lesser extent, social outcasts. Rudy and Paul are gay – in the parlance of the time, deviants – and find themselves experiencing more prejudice than Marco, the teenager they so dearly want to adopt. The year that he spends with them is the first time he’s experienced a secure and loving home and he thrives, both at home and at special school, showing himself to be something of an extrovert. Most of all, he loves happy endings. It’s what he wants from the bedtime stories Rudy tells him at night but, most of all, that’s what he wants from life.
Homophobia comes into play when the District Attorney isn’t convinced by Paul’s description of Rudy as his ‘cousin’ and Paul loses his job. They go to court to try to adopt Marco, represented by a black lawyer, but prejudice has both the DA and the law on its side. And when Marco is returned to his mother and taken to her new house, he keeps repeating “This isn’t my home.” This, however, isn’t the end of the story.
Despite its subject matter, Any Day Now steers well clear of anything remotely resembling sentiment. It’s touching, the ending is desperately sad but it never once strays into mawkish territory and is all the more effective for that. It wears its heart – and its politics – on its sleeve, that’s for sure, and has something approaching 20/20 hindsight when it comes to gay issues, but essentially what it shows is the positive effect of a strong and loving home, regardless of the set-up.
Alan Cumming is terrific as Rudy, full of heart and passion, even if his confrontational attitude doesn’t always help his cause. He’s spontaneous and flamboyant, in contrast to Garret Dillahunt’s Paul, who constantly struggles with himself and a world that seems to be totally against him. Dillahunt is currently in cinemas in 12 Years A Slave, proving just how versatile an actor he is. Playing Marco is Isaac Leyva. He doesn’t have very many lines of dialogue, but he doesn’t need them: his very acceptance of Rudy and Paul speaks volumes.
Any Day Now is an honest film that reminds us how far we’ve come in the way that we treat people who are different in some way – and how far we still have to go. It has moments of anger and outrage, but never loses its dignity, even at the end, which catches you by the throat. I can’t believe you won’t be moved by it.
Any Day Now is currently available on DVD.