Alan Cumming shines bright in ‘Any Day Now’

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It may initially sound like a campfest — a gay man working as a drag queen trying to get custody of a special needs teen while trying to date a closeted guy. But Travis Fine’s exceptional drama “Any Day Now” is anything but. The film opens in Atlanta on Friday.

Written and set in the ‘70s, “Any Day Now” is based on a true story. It revolves around openly gay Rudy Donatello (out actor Alan Cumming), who spends his nights doing drag in a Los Angeles bar. One night he meets Paul Fleiger (“Raising Hope’s” Garrett Dillahunt) and after a sexual encounter in his car they start seeing each other, despite the fact that Paul is very much in the closet.

Rudy discovers Marco (newcomer Isaac Levya), a kid down the hall in the apartment complex who has Down Syndrome. When Marco is abandoned by his drug-addicted mother, Rudy decides to take him in. It’s not long before Child Services swoops in and takes Marco, but he winds up back with Rudy, who with Paul decides to give him the home he deserves.

But of course it’s not that easy. The courts find out and don’t take too kindly to a gay couple raising young Marco. An opposing attorney pries into Rudy’s life and pokes holes all over his character and his relationship with Paul.

Director and co-writer Fine – who used to live in Atlanta – has given the film a sense of realness and period detail. Even though it takes place in the ‘70s, the issues it raises are still as relevant as ever, including homophobia from those who are supposed to impartially decide the family’s fate.

Just when it seems like we know the path the film is headed, it doesn’t go there. The true, very sad story that Fine knew about and has always wanted to bring to film plays out with high-octane emotion.

Dillahunt is fine in something of the “straight man” role, but the film’s central relationship is between Rudy and Marco. Fine has to be careful with the scenes between the two, and he is. They never come across as overly sentimental or hokey. Young Levya works extremely well with Cumming, who has never been this committed in a film role. His Rudy is a paternal/maternal figure who can be fierce one moment and loving and vulnerable the next.

That a small film like this can get a theatrical release is impressive. That it’s being released in an always crowded holiday season is plain silly. It seems likely to get lost in the shuffle, which is unfortunate. There’s more emotion and depth in this film than in three hours of “The Hobbit.” Go see it.

“Any Day Now” opens Friday at Midtown Art Cinema. It’s just one of the Best Gay Things To Do in Atlanta This Weekend.

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