Any Day Now, written by Travis Fine and George Arthur and directed by the former is based on a true story that took place in the 70’s that deals with legal issues surrounding the rights of homosexuals and the mentally handicapped.
The film features Rudy Donatello (Alan Cumming), an openly ‘out’ drag queen struggling to make his way into performing professionally as a singer, who meets Paul Fleigher (Garret Dillahunt) a closeted attorney, one night at Rudy’s gay bar workplace. The two hit it off instantaneously and exchange contact details. The next day however, Rudy discovers that a woman, Marianna (Jamie Anne Allman) who lives down the hall from him turned out to be a junkie who has walked out on her Down Syndrome child, Marco (Isaac Leyva). And so it begins that Rudy’s maternal instincts flare and he is overcome by an incessant need to care for, and protect the adolescent.
In order to embark upon his custodial fight however, he needs the legal assistance and knowledge of Paul. A little overwhelmed at first, doesn’t take long for Paul to connect with Marco and on an even deeper scale with Rudy, asking the pair to live with him not only for the benefit of their legal case, but because together the three of them form a close knit family unit.
Despite being granted temporary custody over Marco while his mother is incarcerated, it’s when Paul and Rudy decide they want permanent custody over the child that their uphill legal battle really begins.
Through the screenplay of Fine and Arthur, the disheartening discrimination displayed towards homosexuals in the 1970’s is strongly apparent, the film illustrates the stable and healthy lifestyle of a homosexual couple (Paul and Rudy) and the way in which it is disregarded in favour of a struggling, drug addicted mother, purely because as a mother it was considered ‘normal’ for her to assume custody. Although it can be considered that the legal decision to return Marco to his mother was justified by the fact that maternal custody should be prioritised as it is the responsibility of the mother to provide for and support her child, in recent years at least, we have come to see how this isn’t necessarily the case, and that the wellbeing of the child should be considered and heralded with much more importance than social considerations of ‘normality’.
The acting exhibited by Isaac Leyva was profound; his positive and comfortable relationship with Alan Cumming and Garret Dillahunt translated well onto the screen and was enjoyable to watch. Both Cumming and Dillahunt play somewhat stereotypical images of gay men, however perhaps it’s the case that we must remember that this film is set in the 70’s, a time when image and stereotype provided a safe haven of identity for the queer community.
The overall storyline was intense, even more so when one considers it rests upon the foundations of a true story, however I often found myself thinking that it would have made for a far better book than film, the complicated legal issues and focus on character feelings could have been built upon, expanded and more deeply explored within the pages of a novel than it was done in the film.
It was also a shame in that time that could have been spent developing the plot and characters was spent instead on lone performance pieces of Alan Cumming in the attempt at conveying feeling and story through song. Needless to say it wasn’t as effective as perhaps intended and having dedicated three separate instances of the film to it, quickly became tedious to watch.
Overall however, the ending of Any Day Now really drives home the message that discrimination is inherently wrong and questions why broken perceptions of ‘normality’ are given priority and in particular why these perceptions are considered ‘normal’ in the first place.