Tackling the ongoing "issue" of gay adoption (and, by virtue of association, LGBT rights in general) is a difficult feat for any director to achieve in an artistically credible way. An emotionally charged topic by definition, Travis Fine's latest picture could easily have descended into a preachy political lesson or some morality sermon. Thankfully Any Day Now manages to compassionately woo its audience while also avoiding any sort of cloying sentimentality.
Alan Cumming plays the enjoyably audacious Rudy Donatello, an aspiring singer by day and drag queen by night with a New Yawk drawl so thick you'd lose a shoe in it. It's the 1970's, so poor Rudy is forced to put up with his awful drug-snorting and T.Rex-blaring neighbour (Jamie Anne Allman). One day he discovers her intellectually disabled son Marco (Isaac Leyva) frightened and alone; we learn that his mother has been thrown in jail, so Rudy and his recently-acquired lawyer boyfriend Paul (Garret Dillahunt) undertake to raise Marco as one of their own. Amidst a culture of internalised fear and loathing of homosexuality, can a same-sex couple hope to raise a disabled kid in peace?
Irrespective of one's viewpoint on the idea of gay adoption (for which none should exist; it's a non-issue), Any Day Now exudes so much charm and such wonderful acting that to fault it on a technical or performance level would betray all reason and logic. Ridiculous wig or not, we've never seen better out of Alan Cumming as the punchy drag performer who, as this movie showcases, has a truly remarkable singing voice. This is likewise a career-best for Dillahunt, while newcomer Levya steals the show and, in doing so, breaks some exciting new ground in championing screen presence of actors with Down's syndrome.
But the movie's focus on the child, Marco, is what makes Any Day Now such a profoundly moving and potent experience. The singularly nefarious antagonists (right-wing lawyers, conservative judges, horrible bosses etc.) aside, the film repeatedly chants the mantra of "this is about the child"; Rudy and Paul's (believably) idyllic household boasts an immeasurably higher quality of life for Marco than anything his empathy-devoid mother could possibly provide, especially while behind bars. Fine could easily have centred events around the two adult leads, but in advocating the kid's welfare as top priority he utterly eradicates any and all remnants of a debate.
Regardless of whether custody rights are granted or not, the ending could only ever have been a tear-jerker. But the route taken is so harrowing, so heartbreaking that leaving the cinema with a pair of completely dry eyes is a virtual impossibility. Bring tissues, but make no mistake; this is a stunningly beautiful movie with a powerful message that's unfortunately as relevant today as it was four decades ago.