Any Day Now’s most redeeming quality is that it isn’t so quick to neuter its queer characters into a package-friendly “gay couple” aesthetic a la Modern Family. The depiction of Rudy (Alan Cumming) and Paul’s (Garret Dillahunt) connection preserves the idea of the possibility of an inter-orientational rapport in which a male’s femininity isn’t hilarious, or grotesque, but actually desired. Their queer coupledom is one we don’t normally see at the movies, one in which femaleness and the male body can coexist without shame and cross-dressing is more than just a performance.
In the film, which is set in the 1970s, Rudy is a drag performer who lives in a run-down apartment complex whose neighbors are a junkie mother and her Down syndrome-afflicted and doll-loving son, Marco (Isaac Leyva). When the mother goes missing, Child Services comes looking for Marco so they can place him in foster care. Rudy, however, decides to take the boy in and care for him, around the same time that he meets Paul, a butch lawyer buried deep in the closet who’s at once attracted to and embarrassed by Rudy. They quickly become a couple and move in together, bringing Marco along as their child. The state is having none of this queer arrangement, which sets the couple into a hard-fought legal battle to keep Marco.
Yes, it sounds melodramatic, and there are moments when Any Day Now leans toward Lifetime-movie sentimentality, namely through its score and the cheesy “all a child needs is love” rhetoric. But the film also preserves, through the unpretentious handling of delicate issues such as disability and the relationship between gender non-conformant children and parents, a much more authentic idea about difference: One can be more than one thing at the same time. Desire in the film is about accretion, not exclusivity. Gays’ clichéd response to pigeonholing, “being gay doesn’t define me,” actually feels real here, as Rudy, Paul, and Marco’s affection triangle teems with too many particularities for it not to exceed the categorizations that the law demands.