The setup of Any Day Now was loosely inspired by a true story, fashioned into a screenplay by George August Bloom about Rudy and Marco's friendship, which then sat in a drawer for years as several attempts to get it made were launched, and folded. The project took on new life when director / co-writer Travis Fine (also an actor, from The Thin Red Line and Girl, Interrupted) sat down with Bloom and hammered it into something slightly different: an emotional legal battle for Rudy to remain Marco's legal guardian. After Rudy discovers Marco, he calls Paul Fleiger (Garret Dillahunt), an attorney who he met at the club the night before. At first, Paul is resistant, knowing that acknowledging his sexuality will be a social and occupational death sentence, but his love for Rudy and Marco quickly wins out.
Set in the comparatively harsher climate of 1979 and 1980 (well, depending on who you ask), and tackling the touchy screen subject of mental disability, it's most impressive how subtly and gently Fine handles the material. I have often heard the comment from gay film fans that movies with gay characters are overly depressing, hitting every tragic note with the grace of an anvil dropping from a skyscraper. Any Day Now generates prickly tension when Rudy, Paul, and Marco encounter hateful, discriminatory people, but Fine prefers to focus on the warmth and sweetness of Rudy and Marco's parent-child relationship. Considering that the backbone of the story is that Rudy and Paul are great parents, it only makes sense that the film focuses on it, but it's still refreshing to see Fine emphasizing the ways in which they triumph and fight rather than the ways the world knocks them down.
The film also gives popular supporting player Dillahunt a chance to shine. Although Cumming is excellent (especially performing two heartbreaking, show-stopping songs), his character Rudy has less of a transformation; his story is about his relationship with Marco. Dillahunt, on the other hand, is coming to terms with himself, a tricky emotional rollercoaster that Fine effortlessly weaves in around the material with Marco. There's a kindness to Dillahunt that Fine uses to great effect, a soft southern lilt to his slightly high-pitched voice that offsets his square jaw. There would also not be much of a movie to speak of without the discovery of Isaac Leyva, the actor chosen to play Marco. At the script stage, Marco was written as an angry, belligerent character who fought with his affliction, but Leyva's natural, undeniable sweetness convinced the filmmakers to change the script.
As a straight person, perhaps my opinion is naturally biased or uninformed, but many of the films I've seen about gay and lesbian characters have a tendency to put too fine a point on their subject matter, drawing a line in the sand between "straight movies" and "gay movies." Don't get me wrong: in an entertainment industry that caters overwhelmingly to straight men, it's no surprise that people making movies for gay audiences feel the need to emphasize themselves, but it still sometimes feels like filmmakers set out to make a movie that is more focused on the fact that the characters are gay rather than telling a story about characters who are gay. Any Day Now is a movie about parents, about lovers, about a family, and about their fight to remain together, and the conflict arises from characters interacting with other characters rather than "homosexuality" or "Down Syndrome." Fine breaks through two subjects that could easily be politicized by remaining true to Rudy, Paul, and Marco, locking his focus in on their emotional journey. One of the best movies of 2012.
The Video and Audio
A DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio soundtrack is on-par with the picture. Much like banding, I see tons of dialogue-heavy pictures that don't offer much in the way of aural flair, but the sheer number of crisply, authentically rendered environments -- a dark nightclub, a crappy apartment with cardboard-thin walls, courtrooms, barbecues, dingy basement offices -- really give this track a little extra something even in the ambient moments, and the track shines during Cumming's songs late in the movie. English subtitles (not captions) are provided.
Trailers for Lore, Starlet, and Keep the Lights On play before the main menu. An original theatrical trailer for Any Day Now is also included.