The controversial film serves viewers a darker slice-of-life, and the outstanding performances should be the focus.
Timothy McNeil’s “Anything” has caused quite a stir in some LGBT circles, especially some in the trans community who resent the fact a cis-male is playing the trans lead.
And I get it. Well, I get it as much as a cis gay, white man can. Hollywood has some real growing up to do when it comes to their casting choices. But I am not here at this moment to try and fix the LGBT community or argue whether or not a movie that began production more than two years ago should have cast a trans woman or a cis woman in the trans role for that matter
I’m here to give my review of a film that already exists and let me just say, it’s a damn good one.
John Carroll Lynch plays Early Landry, a middle-aged suicidal man who has recently lost his wife. His social circle as it stands in Mississippi is bland and depressing. His doting and overprotective sister Laurette (Maura Tierney) is not happy when Early decides to move to Hollywood to escape all the melancholia.
Once he gets settled into his new courtyard-style apartment complex and earns the nickname “Cracker,” he meets Freda (Matt Bomer) a trans sex worker who stops by and flirtatiously asks for a little sugar.
Early soon realizes that the tenants that surround him are immersed in their own life situations, just as unpleasant as his past ones, but his perspective comes into contrast when his sister calls him out of the blue and complains about a foot rash a day after he’s just nursed Freda's bloody beaten body; the result of a trick gone wrong.
Freda is hard, she assumes the worst and it sometimes makes her unsympathetic, but Early brings some vulnerability out in her and she eventually opens up to him. One special scene evolves into a montage of their growing friendship and burgeoning non-sexual love affair beneath a ceiling of plastic stars. This results in Early helping overcome both his and Freda's addiction to pills.
The drama continues after Early’s sister and her family come to meet Freda with disastrous results. This causes a conflict with Freda who can’t get ahold of him after he spirals back into a mild depressive spell.
“Anything” is a character study with Oscar-worthy performances by most of its ensemble cast. Maura Tierney deserves a nod as Early’s sister who can’t stop interfering in her brother’s life. She has the best intentions, but separation anxiety and her reliance on him serve only to smother his healthy instincts.
The extremely talented John Carroll Lynch takes many chances as Early. The power in which he must transition from dark to light back to dark again is tapped from something extraordinary. He’s heartbreaking, but not fully broken.
Matt Bomer is Freda. Some people may not like me saying this, but Bomer's performance is an honest one and his emotional range is charged by the tragedy of Freda's past but lessens in intensity when she realizes there are still good people like Early in the world. As an actor that's a triumph and can take a toll on the performer in real life.
As good as Bomer's performance is, I would be interested to see what a trans woman would bring to the role of Freda.
Dramatically emotional and heavy-handed in parts, "Anything" may not be appreciated by some, but those who disapprove and give it a chance anyway may allow it a mulligan because of the earnestness of the actors who don't disrespect the material but use their skills to lionize it.
"Anything" closes out FilmOut's San Diego LGBT Film Festival on Sunday, June 10, 2018 at 7:15 pm. Get your tickets HERE.