Updated Friday, December 14, 2012 at 12:28 PM
What a contrast a few months can provide. Back in June at the Seattle International Film Festival, where “Any Day Now” won the Golden Space Needle for best picture and best actor (for Alan Cumming’s performance as a yappy West Hollywood drag queen involved in a 1970s same-sex child-custody battle), the subject seemed remote.
Now that Washington state voters have officially approved same-sex marriage, the subject no longer seems impossible. It’s a headline maker, not a political fantasy.
Back in town at the Harvard Exit, “Any Day Now” still takes place in a homophobic world in which marriage must be defended and gay soldiers are pressured to lie, but it now has a more urgent quality.
While Cumming’s breakthrough performance hasn’t changed, the context has. If his character seemed fearless, even self-destructive before, that’s partly because his squeaky wheel now appears to have a visible impact. He may be his own worst enemy, he may appear to lose every battle, but now it looks like he could win a war.
When he attempts to raise an unwanted teenager with Down syndrome (hauntingly played by Isaac Leyva), he finds himself on the edge of losing his lover and partner in child-rearing: a closeted lawyer from Walla Walla (the excellent Garret Dillahunt) who comes in handy when their arrangement is challenged in court.
Complicating matters in director Travis Fine’s powerful script is a crusty judge (the perfectly cast Frances Fisher) who registers the bigotry of the times without seeming merely prejudiced.
But it’s Cumming, playing a broken man who wants to be the next Bette Midler, who demonstrates the possibilities in a character so stubborn that you’re left feeling both exasperated and inspired.
John Hartl: firstname.lastname@example.org
“Any Day Now,” with Alan Cumming, Garret Dillahunt, Isaac Leyva, Frances Fisher. Written and directed by Travis Fine. 97 minutes. Rated R for language, sexual content and some drug use. Harvard Exit.
Music Box Films
Garret Dillahunt, left, Isaac Leyva and Alan Cumming in the drama “Any Day Now.”