Any Day Now
"A travesty of justice!" Alan Cummings' s Rudy proclaims at a pivotal moment in Any Day Now. A travesty of justice, yes, is precisely what this film depicts, and this line has more resonance or meanings the more one reflects on it. This is a veritable tearjerker; have no doubt about that. And have no shame when you feel your cheeks getting wet because this is the real deal - a touching and conflict-ridden story based on real events, not a sentimental mush.
The film is set in Los Angeles in the 1970s and takes on two awkward unions: the primary one being between Rudy, a drag performer (or "female impersonator" as the 1970's hetero's refer to it) from Queens, and Marco (Isaac Leyva), the boy with Down's Syndrome who lives down the hall from him. The second awkward union is between Rudy, who is a no-bullshit firecracker - loud and proud even in homo-hostile environments - and Paul (Garret Dillahunt), the straight-laced attorney he falls for. The three of them join forces once Rudy has successfully "courted" Paul (despite salacious beginnings, romance quickly ensues), and Marco's delinquent mother is hauled off to prison for drug use.
Rudy has about as much patience for Family Services as he does for the common homophobe, and he resolves to take care of Marco himself when the opportunity arises. Fortunately, he’s not one to shy away from challenges or confrontations; and, fortunately, he has happened to meet a lawyer who can help him through the legal stickiness of the situation. Interestingly, the actual taking care of the boy poses little problem. Marco is rather reticent, and he passively demands doughnuts rather than the healthy food Rudy attempts to serve up. But other than that, the conflict really comes from dealing with the system that doesn’t care for the idea of two homos raising a kid, never mind that they are ten times the parents his biological mother could ever hope to be.
There is also conflict in the fact that Paul isn’t properly out. In fact, he allows his female co-worker to sustain an office crush on him and struggles to maintain rapport with his intrusive boss. There is a persistent tug between Rudy’s flamboyance and insistence on honesty and Paul’s practicality and need for discretion. This dynamic is well-written and well-acted, in that both characters are alternately sympathetic and deserving of reprimand.
Cummings gives a resplendent performance. He brings to Rudy ferocity, tenderness, neediness, and brazen defiance - all seamlessly and believably. This character is a gay type that perhaps isn’t that often captured on film. He is an unapologetically effete working class man who is a diva and a dreamer on the one hand and an altruistic and acute man on the other hand. One can see in his face that he has transcended his share of shit in his life, and he’s not even afraid to concede that his ostensible fearlessness is a front. When Paul coaches him, as they settle into bed, that he has to avoid "Rudy’isms" and "be cool" in court the next day, he responds that he’ll be "as cool as the other side of the pillow". And it’s telling that for Marco’s sake, he attempts to calm the firebrand tendencies that could get them in trouble during proceedings.
The film balances the tensions and letdowns of the legal fight with touching moments between the three of them, and the effusive support of Marco’s new teacher counterbalances the rampant homophobia (and the pettiness of Rudy’s coworkers)to a certain extent. Like with any successful film about a tough subject, you will likely feel both inspired and profoundly frustrated. This is a triumph of gay cinema.
Any Day Now opens December 14, 2012 in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Denver and Philadelphia. It opens in additional cities on December 21, 2012. For a complete list of opening dates, visit the film’s website.