Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Any Day Now [2012]

MPAA (R)  Michael Philips (2 Stars)  AV Club (B)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars)

IMDb listing
Michael Phillips' review
Village Voice's review
AV Club's review

Any Day Now (directed and screenplay adapted by Travis Fine based on the original screenplay by George Arthur Bloom based on a real case which took place in Brooklyn, NY in the 1970s) is a propaganda piece.  That said, I don't mean that necessarily in a bad way.  There are times to when it is entirely correct to "make a case."  And I do believe that this is a story that that people of good will ought to know.

Though Any Day Now is set in Los Angeles in the late 1970s, it's based on a real case that took place in Brooklyn, NY around that time.  It's about a gay man, Rudy (played by Alan Cumming) seeking to first get custody and then keep custody of a severely challenged 15-year old boy named Marco (played by Isaac Leyva) with Down Syndrome who lived in the run-down flat next to Rudy's, who due to his family situation (absent father, drug addicted mother, played by Jaime Anne Allman) really had few options other than state sanctioned foster care.  Pulling no punches, Rudy is portrayed as being a singer in a West Hollywood "drag club," indication of the film makers' desire to not try to "sanitize" the story by making Rudy artificially "respectable" AND also helping to explain why Rudy would have found himself involved in Marco's case to begin with: If Rudy didn't work as a "drag queen" in a club and live in a run-down apartment somewhere in the Hollywood/West Hollywood district of Los Angeles, he never would have had met Marco the differently-abled son of a down-on-her-luck / drug challenged mother.  Yet once one meets such folks in such heart-rending situations, well, what does one do?  Rudy does step-up to take care of Marco after Marco's mother doesn't come home one night (after being picked-up by the cops on some charge ...).

Now due to the particular characteristics of the gay-subculture, the "bohemian" (to the drag queen edge) singer Rudy comes to have a friend (who becomes more of a friend) Paul (played by Garret Dillahunt) a recently divorced and now half-out-of-the-closet lawyer/assistant D.A. who's able to help Rudy navigate some of the then overwhelmingly complex legal minefields that he would have to pass in order to hope to get custody of Marco after Marco's mother is locked-up for a sentence of three years.  Much certainly plays out ...

Now the Catholic Church in recent years has taken the stance of opposing both gay marriage and gay adoption to the extent that in Illinois from where I write Catholic Charities has withdrawn itself from dealing in adoption services rather than be compelled to grant custody of children to gay couples.  So why am I, as a Catholic priest, reviewing a film like this?  I am doing so because theology is made with the Scriptures/the whole history/Tradition of interpreting the Scriptures in one hand and our (humanity's) experience in the other.  This film is a data point.  My own experience both (1) in dealing over the years in my pastoral work with a surprisingly and at times depressingly large number of cases of troubled adults who grew-up in truly horrendous home situations (headed, as a matter of course, by heterosexual but often deeply troubled parents) and (2) actually knowing of a case of a gay (in this case, a lesbian) couple and their experience with adoption (by then, in their case, it was "legal" for them to adopt, but the number of opportunities available to them remained limited to basically the hardest, most troubled children that very, very few prospective adoptive parents would dare to undertake -- troubled, abandoned teens with either severe disabilities or drug problems) tells me that this film rings fundamentally true.   And hence I make note of the film here, noting also, as I generally try to do, what other relevant/published reviewers (see above) had to say about the film as well.

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