Music Box Films // 2012 // 97 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Clark Douglas // May 8th, 2013
They made him a promise. He made them a family.
"Oh, it's the oldest story in the book: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy kicks open the closet door and finally meets Mr. Right."
Our story begins in West Hollywood in the late 1970s. Rudy (Alan Cumming, The Good Wife) is a performer at a local gay bar. He's just barely making enough money to get by, and is currently living in a dingy apartment in a bad part of town. Just down the hall is Marianna (Jamie Ann Allman, The Killing), a drug addict whose teenage son Marco (Isaac Leyva) is afflicted with Down's Syndrome. When Marianna suddenly decides to abandon her son, Rudy takes it upon himself to care for the boy. Before long, Rudy and his new boyfriend Paul (Garrett Dillahunt, No Country for Old Men) -- a young attorney whose star is on the rise at his law firm -- decide to look into becoming Marco's legal guardians. Alas, in a society that still largely disapproves of homosexuality, they're facing an uphill battle. Will Rudy and Paul be successful in their mission to give Marco the sort of loving home he deserves?
I found myself getting pretty misty during the closing moments of the drama Any Day Now. I imagine many viewers will, as the film is dealing with some emotionally loaded subject matter. I mean, come on, it's a tearjerker about a kid with Down's Syndrome. However, I'm pleased to report that writer/director/producer Travis Fine and his team do an impressive job of ensuring that the film earns its big emotional moments. There's definitely a movie-of-the-week sentimentality running through the film at times, but the depth of the performances and the quality of the craftsmanship go a long way towards offsetting that.
Though the hardened critic within me tends to resist such nakedly emotional storytelling, that's largely because many filmmakers who lean on such emotions are more interested in simply pushing buttons than in truly speaking from the heart. There's a plainspoken sincerity to Any Day Now that turns into something enormously affecting, never moreso than during a closing sequence in which a host of supporting characters read a letter written by Paul. In a behind-the-scenes featurette included on the disc, Cumming reveals that the initial draft of the script contained a number of emotionally-loaded lines that went too far, but that Fine proved quite open to revising these lines and toning down the script's more melodramatic elements.
So much of the movie rests on the shoulders of its two central actors, both of whom turn in nuanced, heartfelt performances. The casting is nothing short of perfect: Cumming as the outspoken, flamboyant gay nightclub singer; Dillahunt as the nervous, soft-spoken attorney who's just working up the courage to come out of the closet. Both of the characters could have felt like stereotypes (Rudy in particular), but the actors bring naturalism and conviction to their work. The two have a certain uneasy chemistry together that feels about right; there's a raw attraction between them but they both need some time to get used to each other's respective personalities. Neither of these guys are really movie stars in the conventional sense, but they're both hard-working actors who tend to be highlights of any ensemble. It's nice to see both of them given meaty dramatic roles to sink their teeth into. Props should also go to Isaac Leyva, who captures Marco's simple innocence beautifully.
Casting is strong across the board, really. The filmmakers do an expert job of finding people who are able to convey a great deal about a character with their presence. Gregg Henry (The Riches) as a douchebag attorney? Spot-on. Chris Mulkey (Lost) as Dillahunt's overbearing alpha-male boss? Bingo. Frances Fisher (Titanic) as a thoughtful judge who is careful to avoid revealing her true feelings? Right on the money. Though the story certainly has its share of heroes and villains, Fine avoids going over the top with these characters or making them unbelievably hateful people. There's so much drama built into the story; it doesn't need to be juiced up with cartoonish characterizations. The only one-dimensional character is Marco's mother, but then drugs have a way of turning anyone into a stereotype.
Any Day Now (Blu-ray) offers a solid 1080p/2.40:1 transfer that offers decent detail and depth throughout. Though it's obvious that the filmmakers were working on a tiny budget, the film is able to deliver a reasonably believable portrait of the world these characters live in. The movie often has a drab, dingy look, but that's an intentional artistic choice. The DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio track is fine, only really kicking into gear during some of the nightclub performances (speaking of which, Cumming has some serious vocal chops). For the most part, the track focuses on delivering the dialogue and gentle underscore with clarity, and it does that effectively. Supplements include a making-of featurette, a brief but charming interview with Isaac Levya, footage from Isaac's audition and a trailer. Hardly comprehensive, but it's all worth checking out.
Any Day Now is a heartstring-tugging weepie that doubles as a politically-charged call to arms, but it's more satisfying than that description indicates. The performances are strong, the direction is solid and the storytelling is genuinely earnest. As long as you have a box of Kleenexes handy, it's worth checking out.
Review content copyright © 2013 Clark Douglas; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Music Box Films
* 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 97 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Audition Footage