It would be a shame to belittle a serious film on a serious subject by referring to the number of hankies likely to be dampened during any viewing. But Travis Fine’s true-life story from the 1970s is as ruthless a tear-jerker as we have seen in many a year.
A gay couple attempt to secure custody of a boy with Down syndrome, left alone when his mom is arrested. Even that one-sentence scenario is enough to put a lump in your throat. Imagine what it’s like to watch the blasted film.
Alan Cumming plays Rudy, a mildly dissolute drag queen at a West Hollywood bar. In the space of a few days, two events shake up his life and propel him in a new direction. He meets and falls for Paul (Garret Dillahunt), a closeted attorney. Then his neighbour, a junkie, is carted off to jail and her son Marco, with whom Rudy is pally, gets taken into care.
When Marco escapes and returns back to the apartment house, Rudy and Paul make the brave decision to care for the lad. They get his mother to agree and, for a year or so, everything goes swimmingly. Then, sadly, the authorities – who had believed the men to be cousins – discover the true nature of their relationship. A court case follows.
All the actors are terrific. Cumming gets to do some proper emoting and to tear apart a few torch songs. Dillahunt offers nice balance as the less volatile of the two men. Don Franklin gets to make some blaxsploitation shapes as a radical lawyer fond of the Oedipal swearword. And serious kudos go the way of Isaac Leyva, who is very moving as the unfortunate Marco.
Yes, Any Day Now is manipulative: the opposition lawyers are all vile; the home life of the improvised family is near-idyllic; a final, wrenching scene wrings every last tear from the situation. But the core truth of the scenario – still relevant today – keeps the film honest. A very touching piece of work.