Film

Review: Keeping Loneliness at Bay in Anything

In his second feature, Anything, actor-turned-director Timothy McNeil shows that he has the ability to tell a fairly simple story with complexity and grace. Although not a great film by any measure, Anything has a sweet heart and actually dares to present a character from the deep South who isn’t instantly judgmental or closed minded.

The great John Carroll Lynch plays Early Landry, a Mississippi man whose wife has recently died in a car accident. The two had known each other since they were children, and his heartbreak is so severe that he attempts to take his own life in the aftermath of her death.

Without any discussion, his sister Laurette (Maura Tierney) shows up to take Early back to L.A. with her, so she can look after him with her husband and teenage son, Jack (Tanner Buchanan). Feeling like he needs a little space and time away from his well-meaning sister, Early finds a small apartment in a sketchy Hollywood neighborhood. He meets a few of the other residents, including a downstairs couple he befriends, but it’s his next-door neighbor in whom he takes a real interest.

Freda Von Rhenburg (Matt Bomer) is a transgender woman, sex worker, pain pill addict, who opens up Early’s world and mind in ways he never could have anticipated. One of the charms Anything is that Freda finds Early’s perfect Southern gentleman persona just as much of a curiosity as he find her. They test each other’s limits but ultimately land on forming a close friendship that isn’t as much about attraction as it is mutual respect for the other.

Predictably, their bond is tested when he finally invites his sister and her family over for dinner to meet Freda, and things don’t go well (although the nephew loves how quickly his uncle fits right into the Hollywood lifestyle). Thankfully, the fact that Early is a fairly rich man (thanks to his wife’s insurance and selling his home in Mississippi) doesn’t really come into play in the story; I would have hated to see this interesting relationship reduced by some lame story about Freda trying to rip off her new friend.

Anything doesn’t attempt to solve anyone’s deep-seated problem or pain by the presence of this new friendship, and it leaves things fairly opened ended about the future of Early and Freda’s relationship. Is this a love story? Perhaps, but that comes later, if at all. In the end, the movie is about two lonely people finding each other and attempting to be a little less alone. There is still some value in that, I believe.

The film opens Friday for a weeklong run at Facets Cinémathèque.

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