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By Tony LaScala · December 18, 2012
You probably won’t find the emotionally electric film Any Day Now in your typical theatre this weekend and it’s certainly not the average American’s first choice on any weekend, but for what it’s worth this reviewer glanced around the threadbare Pasadena theatre post-closing scene to find a grab bag of people of different ages, genders, sexual orientations, and political backgrounds wiping at damp eyelids after this Indie surprised us all.
Any Day Now is a loosely adapted true story that a lot of writers wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pen, but writer/director Travis Fine’s re-hashing of George Arthur Bloom’s original screenplay hits all the plot points of a marketable Hollywood story. Set on the grungy streets of Los Angeles in the 70’s, the film chronicles a young couple trying to fight the legal system and adopt a handicapped teenager with one hitch to the traditional format: both parents are men. Cross dressing stage performer Rudy (Alan Cumming) strikes up an unexpected relationship with closeted homosexual district attorney Paul (Garret Dillahunt). When Rudy learns of a teenager with Down Syndrome named Marco (Isaac Leyva) being abandoned by his drug addict neighbor, he turns to Paul for legal help in adopting him. Together they take on the black and white legal system, challenging the “ideal” of the traditional American family system.
The film draws heavily on political biases that exist within the battleground of gay rights. As a married straight man I can walk down any street holding my wife’s hand without drawing a single glance. Replace either my wife or myself with someone of the opposite gender, and suddenly you have a coupling that elicits many a sideways glance and hushed comments. This is not a film that goes for “shock value,” frankly I’m surprised it received an “R” rating. There are a handful of naughty words and some implied sexual acts, but frankly it’s no more crass than a majority of films that receive a less harsh rating. What Fine and Bloom have written can just as easily be a big budget Hollywood film about an African American couple trying to adopt a white child in the 50’s. Cast Denzel Washington and Viola Davis and you’ve suddenly got Oscar buzz.
Both Cumming and Dillahunt turn in unflinching performances as the would-be parents of Marco. Cumming’s sly smile and snarky brashness carries the film, but Dillahunt matches Cumming with a quiet strength as the Yang to Rudy’s Yin. Isaac Leyva is mesmerizing, tugging at our heart strings as he stares at his bedroom for the first time and asks “Is this my home?” while holding back tears of joy. Where an independent film lacks in visual spectacle, it must make up in scene structure and performance. Both the screenplay and the performances by the actor’s were nearly flawless, leaving a lasting impact in the world of “over artsy” Indie flicks that often fall flat and leave its audiences bored yet hopeful.
Any Day Now won’t be showing in a theatre near you, it most likely won’t reach wide release, and you’ll probably have a hard time finding it once it hits rental services. This is one of those movies you’ll have to go out of your way for, and for many it might be to uncomfortable a subject matter for a weekend at the movies. It’s a finely crafted family drama full of politically charged tension that probably would have gotten a much wider release had both leads not been male. But, if you are secure enough in your movie watching choices, you’ll probably be surprised at just how “un-Indie” this Indie is.