ANY DAY NOW
US, 2013, 98 minutes, Colour.
Alan Cumming, Garrett Delahunt, Isaac Levya, Frances Fisher, Gregg Henry, Don Franklin, Mindy Stirling.
Directed by Travis Fine.
In retrospect, some of the details of situations or character may not be as credible as they seem while seen on the screen. Nevertheless, while the film is there, it is often very, very moving.
It takes up quite a number of issues and gives the audience plenty to be emotional about and to try to understand. We are accosted, so to speak, at the opening when we realise that this is Alan Cumming as Rudy, performing as a drag queen in a club. During his number, he notices a very straight, up-and-down man has moved into the club. They talk, relate sexually, are approached by the police. When it emerges that Paul (Garrett Dillahunt) works for the DA’s office, it is clear that same-sex relationships will be a key issue for the film. The setting is 1979.
When Rudy goes home, a dingy place where he finds difficulty in paying the rent, he finds a boy with Down Syndrome, neglected by his slatternly mother. Another issue, the life of and care for a boy with Down Syndrome.
Rudy approaches Paul’s office for legal help, Paul is immediately unresponsive. However, the two men are attracted towards each other and Paul finds a solution, with the mother signing away the right to care for her son during her imprisonment and the two men looking after the boy. His name is Marco and he is portrayed with great sympathy by Isaac Levya. Another issue, temporary adoption and fostering, especially by a gay couple.
Because Marco is so sympathetic (it might have been more credible for the plot and the challenges for Rudy and Paul had he had some difficulties, temper tantrum, for instance, or become ill), audiences will really respond to the parenting by the two men and the response of Marco. They involve him in a school for special students, with a very sympathetic and affirming teacher.
Life wasn’t meant to be easy, and difficulties arise for the two men, especially in their going through the courts to gain custody. Initially, the judge (Frances Fisher) is wary of Paul’s challenge for her to listen sympathetically. She is handicapped by the attitudes of the times. The prosecuting lawyer (Gregg Henry) is aggressive, seemingly homophobic in his detailed interrogations of Rudy, his work, his behaviour, in exposing Marco to his way of life. Paul acts as the defence.
The film is not as predictable as one might have thought, leaving the audience with some emotion and a challenge to think through the realities of adoption, the role of the law, awarding a child to its mother, even when she is unable to care for the child.
There is quite some humour in the film, along with the pathos. Any Day Now offers an accessible story to audiences to help reflect on the issues.
1. A film many themes and issues? Emotional response? Intelligence response?
2. The title, the song? The range of songs and lyrics? Commenting on the action and relationships? Alan Cumming and his performance?
3. Los Angeles, 1979? Apartments, bars, district attorney’s office, institutions, the courts?
4. The opening with Marco, wandering? The reprise at the end, his continued wandering, the pathos of his death? His life in between?
5. Marco’s story, his neglectful mother, how affected? The loud music? Rudy finding the doll, giving it to him, not taking him to the authorities? Marco at 14 and 15? Down’s syndrome? His appearance, his behaviour? Intelligence? An agreeable boy? His mother’s disappearance? Rudy’s help? Taking him from the institution? Rudy and Marco going to Paul? Paul’s advice? The mother signing the documents for them to care of him? Their going to the court, the approval? Paul and his invitation them to move in? Marco and his eating donuts, the details of their life at home, Rudy telling stories with happy endings? His going to the club, during rehearsals, well-minded? His physical appearance, physical check-up, his needing glasses? His being involved in the classes? Singing the Star-Spangled? Banner, writing sentences, the approval of his teacher? His being taken again? The emotional hurt? Foster- parents, return to the institution? His weeping? Being taken to his mother’s house and saying it was not his home? His mother, the sexual behaviour, his being iin the corridor, walking away, wandering, ultimately dying?
6. The film as supportive of life? Fostering growth? The relevant legislation and judicial decisions, the mother, the good of the child? And the mother not being able to fulfil her obligations?
7. Rudy, singer, drag, the songs, the club, his companions? Paul at the club, reticence, in the car, the sexual behaviour, the police critical, Paul and his work and the district attorney’s office? His card, Rudy phoning, Paul not taking his call? The visit, shaming Paul? Paul going into action? Rudy’s personality, the landlord, difficulties with the rent, his work in the club, discussions with the singers? Noticing Paul? The sexual encounter, the police? The doll in the corridor, Marco and his mother, telling him off? Rudy’s finding Marco, compassionate? The clashes with the landlord? Affection for Marco, instantly? Going to the court, the mother’s papers, Rudy and Marco moving in? Life with Marco, happy, the home movies? The role of the law? The judge and her manner and decisions? Testifying? The prosecutor, the intensity of his questions, Rudy’s character, way of life, sexual behaviour, and its effect on Marco? The appeal, going to the top lawyer, the conspiracy from the DA’s office, the mother taking her son back?
8. Paul, the background of his story, in the closet, his marriage, divorce, coming to LA, going to the club, the sexual encounter, police? The phone call, Rudy’s visit, shaming him, the decision to help, his loving Rudy, Marco’s life, joy? The donuts? his secretary flirting with him, at the party, the DA and his observations, drawing conclusions? Having offered Paul a particular case, and believing that he was having an affair with the secretary? Firing him? Paul and his ideas? Take the case, the defence, advice to Rudy? His compassionate speech about Marco? The direction of the other lawyer?
9. The judge, application of the law, interpretations in 1979? Paul’s plea? Her decision, her motivation?
10. The prosecuting lawyer, hard attacks, homophobia?
11. The African- American lawyer, the discussions with Paul, taking on the case? Continuing to fight?
12. The mother, harsh, drugs, prostitution, arrest, prison, signing the document, prison, getting out, persuaded to take custody, the sexual behaviour, putting Marco in the corridor?
13. The Inspector, coming to the house, questioning Paul and Rudy? Offering testimony in court in support? The support of the teacher?
14. Issues of same-sex relationship, orientation, behaviour, private behaviour, criminal behaviour?
15. The issues of adoption, the adoption of the Down Syndrome child? Gay couples and their adoption, for and against? The issue of confusion of the child?
16. Look at 1979-1980? Perspectives now?