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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Any Day Now

This earnest tale of two gay men caring for a teenager with Down's syndrome doesn't quite hit the emotional heights it strives for.
By Lee Zachariah
April 19, 2014
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Any Day Now

This earnest tale of two gay men caring for a teenager with Down's syndrome doesn't quite hit the emotional heights it strives for.
By Lee Zachariah
April 19, 2014
  shares

In the 1970s, recently de-closeted lawyer Paul (Garret Dillahunt) meets drag club singer Rudy (Alan Cumming), and the two hit it off immediately. Their relationship is both complicated and strengthened when Rudy discovers his drug-addict neighbour has a neglected son with Down's syndrome, and takes it upon himself to care for the kid. Before any of them know what's happened, a family unit has instantly formed, and the three must fight prejudices to stay together.

Any Day Now has the vague whiff of being based on a true story, and does purport to have been inspired by true events, but press notes refuse to go into any detail about what this true story might have been. It's a important to note this, because tales that claim to be "inspired by true events" receive a cache of good will, as outrageous plot contrivances are forgiven under the assumption that it must have really happened.

Without a grasp of what the original true life tale might have been, the series of coincidences in this film are a little harder to swallow. We can accept that life is stranger than fiction, but only when the fiction draws us in with the sort of verisimilitude that shocks us with its authenticity. Some films feel like real life; others simply feel like films. Any Day Now, for all its excellent intentions, feels like a film.

Cumming chews up the scenery as the improbably accented Rudy, whose Joan Rivers-esque comebacks to every single utterance thrust in his direction makes him feel like a nightclub routine, as opposed to someone who occasionally performs a nightclub routine. It's a shame, because these unlikely quips undo the solid emotional work Cumming puts in as the prospective adopted father.

Rudy's instant connection to Marco would feel too rushed if it wasn't for the frankly superb work by Isaac Leyva, the teenager with Down's syndrome. Marco is quiet and nonresponsive for a long period of the film, suggesting that the drama will come from the more experienced actors having emotions at him. But Leyva is called upon to do some pretty heavy work, selling us on tears of joy in one scene and tears of sadness in another. It's hard to watch him and not feel the overwhelming compulsion to adopt him yourself.

Ultimately, Any Day Now suffers from its artifice. Too many things happen too easily, and for us to be convinced by the situation, the film would have been served by reducing the manipulation. As a weepy and capitalised Important Tale, the film is very good and some moments stir up emotion, but it isn't the film it should be, failing to hit the heights it is so earnestly aiming for.

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