SIFF Film Reviews – The Eye of the Storm & Any Day Now
The Eye of the Storm: Australian matriarch Elizabeth Hunter (Charlotte Rampling) has decided she is on her deathbed and summons her two children, Basil (Geoffrey Rush) and Dorothy (Judy Davis), home to pay their last respects. While her children certainly do want to say goodbye, they also want to make sure her fortune is still intact. Basil is an actor who has always plied his charm to make him irresistible to his mother. He’s trying to get a new play off the ground, and his share of the inheritance would be more than enough to let him do exactly what he wants. Dorothy, who married a prince and has only been able to hold on to the title, has been living very frugally off her past glories in Paris. Neither one of them is particularly close to their mother—Basil is too self-centered, and Dorothy is unable a forgive a wrong done long ago. The two of them go head-to-head with their mother’s staff regarding what is best for her—their main concern being the conservation of her money and the staff’s being the comfort of her remaining days.
There is no other way to say this: The Eye of the Storm is a crazy trainwreck of a movie. Elizabeth Hunter is a virago who, in her quest to experience all that life has to offer, has never really had much time to ponder how her actions might hurt others. She wants what she wants when she wants it, and being near death doesn’t do much to change her behavior. Everybody else in the story, if not equally annoying, is pretty damn close. But the performances are good and there is a lot of scenery chewing if you are into that sort of thing. The simple fact of the matter is that this story has too much plot and not enough character development. Things (crazy things) just keep happening, whether they further the story or not. I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of days, and I still have no idea what the overarching theme of this movie was. I got to know the characters better, but I don’t think they learned anything about themselves or each other, and what was the point of all the little subplots if they weren’t going to go anywhere? If you really like these actors, I’m not going to tell you not to see this; I talked to some people who really enjoyed the performances, if nothing else. But just be forewarned, this movie is all over the place. Also, there is this very unsubtle bug/rot motif running through the film that is just weird.
The Eye of the Storm screens May 25th at the Everett Performing Arts Center and May 26th and 27th at the Egyptian Theatre in Seattle.
Final Grade: C-
Any Day Now: Female impersonator Rudy (Alan Cumming) just may have met the man of his dreams when he also meets the child who might make him a better person. Rudy comes home from a pick up with Paul (Garret Dillahunt) when he notices his neighbor has left her teenage son with Down syndrome, Marco, home alone. He takes the boy in for the night, and when he realizes the mother isn’t coming back (she’s been picked up for prostitution), he asks Paul to help him become the boy’s foster parent. He knows that Marco (Isaac Leyva) is going to get lost in the system, and he wants to do the right thing because he knows no one else will. As Rudy and Paul embark on a relationship as lovers, they also become instant parents as they try to give Marco a stable home. But this movie takes place in the late 1970s, when there was no precedent for gay men being foster parents, and they must fight against homophobia and the law to become the parents of the child they love.
This is a big, heartbreaking, teary drama, and it definitely tries to send a not-too-subtle message about tolerance and civil rights. But I have no issue with a movie aspiring to a higher purpose, and I enjoyed both the acting (I am partial to Alan Cumming, even—or especially—when he attempts a broad Queens accent) and the story. It has just enough humor to allow the audience to engage, so when things get tough, they have enough emotional attachment to the characters to be willing to ride it out. It’s a little watered down in order to appeal to a more general audience (read: “heterosexual”), but I didn’t find that to be a problem until the last act. The ending did not have the impact that it should have; I felt it was totally muted. At the moment when I should have been weeping openly into my popcorn bag, I was just tearing up a little and thinking about how good Alan Cumming looks with long hair.
The film does a pretty good job of building to the finale, but then it just fizzles out. It was like being broken up with over voicemail; it still sucks, but the satisfaction of having it out with other party is not there. But, Any Day Now is still worth watching, and tells an important story.
Any Day Now screens May 26th and 27th at the Harvard Exit theater.
Final Grade: B