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Blu-ray Review: Alan Cumming Delivers Oscar-Caliber Work in ‘Any Day Now’

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CHICAGO – Evoking the civil rights melodramas of the ’60s, such as Guy Green’s wrenching “A Patch of Blue,” with a dash of Robert Benton’s 1979 masterpiece, “Kramer vs. Kramer,” Travis Fine’s “Any Day Now” shamelessly aims to tug at the heartstrings. And tug at them he does with considerable success, thanks in large part to the riveting, career-best performance delivered by Alan Cumming. It’s the sort of work that could’ve easily been honored with an Oscar nod, had Fox Searchlight or Harvey Weinstein picked it up.

Set in California circa 1979, the film centers on a gay couple struggling to care for a young boy who is in desperate need of a family. Though the couple desires to be considered as his parents, they find themselves in the same predicament as the distraught father figure in Patrick Wang’s 2011 masterpiece, “In the Family.” Yet whereas Wang’s protagonist is able to argue his case with thoughtful eloquence and humility, Cumming’s impassioned rage is so volatile that it threatens to burst forth at the most inopportune moments. His character could learn a lesson or two from Wang, and the film as a whole could as well.

HollywoodChicago.com Blu-ray Rating: 4.0/5.0
Blu-ray Rating: 4.0/5.0

Cumming’s inherently engaging screen persona enables his character, a vivacious drag performer named Rudy, to credibly connect with Marco (Isaac Leyva), a young neglected child with Down Syndrome who lives in the apartment across the hall. Once the drug habits of Marco’s wretched mother (Jamie Anne Allman) land her in jail, Rudy sees this as an opportunity to care for the kid himself. This presents an obvious problem for Rudy’s closeted lover, Paul (Garret Dillahunt), whose desire for a job promotion conflicts with his increasing need to be open about his identity. There are echoes here of Joe Pitt, the closeted attorney from “Angels in America,” while Rudy has all the show-stopping presence of Prior Walter. Alas, the script co-authored by Fine and George Arthur Bloom, lacks the subtlety and brilliance of “Angels” scribe Tony Kushner, not to mention the humane insight of Wang. The vast majority of people that Rudy encounters are hostile, small-minded caricatures who pride themselves on their hatred of homosexuals. This may have been an even bigger flaw if Cumming hadn’t been so effective in portraying Rudy’s confrontational demeanor and (occasionally) misdirected tirades. He has too large a personality to be imprisoned in the shadows, and his flamboyance spells certain doom for Paul’s reputation in the eyes of his boss, DA Wilson (Chris Mulkey), a snickering villain whose uber-masculine machismo is laid on way too thick. 

Any Day Now was released on Blu-ray and DVD on April 23rd, 2013.
Any Day Now was released on Blu-ray and DVD on April 23rd, 2013.
Photo credit: Music Box Films

Oddly enough, the strongest scenes in the film turn out to be the ones that could’ve easily drowned in schmaltz. Every time Fine centers his lens on the budding friendship between Marco and his two “fathers,” the film achieves a tangible poignance. Cumming’s eyes radiate with a paternal devotion that is bound to resonate with viewers regardless of their religious or ideological beliefs. He also brings visceral power to the maddening courtroom scenes presided over by a hard-nosed judge played by Frances Fisher, looking more severe and tyrannical than ever. When a blatantly prejudiced prosecutor fudges the facts in order to convince the judge that Rudy and Paul’s orientation has had a damaging effect on Marco, Rudy’s time bomb finally explodes, and the dramatic fireworks that follow are quite potent. Will “Any Day Now” sway viewers on the sidelines of such a contentious issue? As a member of the swayed, it’s difficult to say. Perhaps the broad strokes that Fine utilizes may very well increase his film’s accessibility with audiences, and it certainly has the benefit of running nearly half the length of Wang’s film. Yet whereas Fine’s melodrama stages an angry battle between heroes and villains, Wang’s grand opus is populated merely by humans who tentatively yet gracefully arrive at a mutual understanding.
 
“Any Day Now” is presented in 1080p High Definition (with a 2.39:1 aspect ratio), and includes a 16-minute featurette that reveals how the original, fact-based script written by Bloom was altered by Fine in later drafts. There’s also a brief interview with executive producers Wayne LaRue Smith and Dan Skahen, the first gay couple allowed to adopt a child in the state of Florida.

‘Any Day Now’ is released by Music Box Films and stars Alan Cumming, Garret Dillahunt, Isaac Leyva, Frances Fisher, Gregg Henry, Jamie Ann Allman, Chris Mulkey, Don Franklin and Kelli Williams. It was written by Travis Fine and George Arthur Bloom and directed by Travis Fine. It was released on April 23rd, 2013. It is rated R.

HollywoodChicago.com staff writer Matt Fagerholm

By MATT FAGERHOLM
Staff Writer
HollywoodChicago.com
matt@hollywoodchicago.com

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