Any Day Now, the new feature film starring Alan Cumming and Garret Dillahunt as a gay couple in the 1970s who foster a teenager with Down Syndrome, is a refreshing reminder that LGBT families have a long history of coming together in unexpected ways, against the odds. Other recent fictional portrayals of LGBT parenting have focused on upper-middle class families, deliberately becoming parents and secure in their parental rights. Not so here.
Tony Award winner and Emmy nominee Cumming plays Rudy Donatello, who performs as a drag queen at a West Hollywood gay bar and barely makes his rent. Dillahunt is Paul Fleiger, his new-found and still closeted partner, a lawyer with the district attorney’s office. The characters are an odd couple, but the actors have an undeniable chemistry, despite not having met until shortly before filming.
The film traces the evolution of their relationship with each other as well as with Marco (Isaac Leyva), the son of Rudy’s drug-addicted neighbor. When the mother ends up in jail and the men step in to care for Marco (with her approval), the boy thrives—until the authorities discover their living arrangement and attempt to take Marco from them.
As always, Cumming’s work is top-notch. He gives Rudy just enough bravado as a performer without making him into a caricature of a drag queen. He reveals Rudy’s underlying compassion towards Paul and Marco in subtle ways, and the several songs he performs are as much poignant as flamboyant. Dillahunt is perfect as his once-married, closeted partner, who finds an unexpected strength when they have to defend their family in court.
Director Travis Fine may seem an unlikely choice to have made this film, being a self-described “straight guy with a wife, three healthy kids and a house in the suburbs” who has “never been overtly political.” But he said in a Director’s Statement that he found a connection to the script (originally written by George Arthur Bloom) in a moment of personal anguish about how his ex-wife’s actions had alienated him from his daughter. “What right does she have to take my child away from me?” he asked himself—and then realized the universality of the pain Rudy suffered when Marco was taken from him.
A few moments feel a tad preachy, but overall, this is a terrific film. It is not, however, a comfortable one. Many of us will know from personal experience the awkwardness Paul feels in coming out and hiding his sexual orientation from colleagues. Many of us will know the feeling of having to defend our families in a world biased against us. Some of us may even remember 1970s clothing. But director Fine is to be commended for not glossing over the rough spots, and especially for avoiding a typical Hollywood ending. The ending will not sit easy with all audiences, but that’s the point. (I’ll say no more, as to avoid spoilers.)
Cumming, in a publicity interview, sums up what the film means to him:
In Any Day Now we have three outsiders all trying to be allowed to love each other, something that nobody should be prevented from doing. And they’re on a new and magical journey together that the audience gets to come on too. The movie has a lot to say about gay rights, adoption, how we view disability. Mostly it is about family and the basic desire we all have to care and love others.
It is that basic desire that will resonate with audiences both LGBT and not. Watch the trailer below, and check the film’s Web site for a theater playing it near you. It’s in limited release right now, but the more who see it, or who submit their zip codes via the film’s site, the better chance it will see wider distribution.