Love and acceptance are at the forefront of “Anything” a transgender romance based on the award-winning play by director Timothy McNeil. The unconventional relationship between a grieving southerner (the wonderful John Carroll Lynch) and his trans street hustler neighbor (a resolute Matt Bomer), takes the traditional south and integrates it with the progressive west with surprising results. The convincing performances by Lynch and Bomer push the film past incredulity while delivering a message of tolerance.
As the film opens we meet Early Landry (Lynch), a quiet insurance salesman in Mississippi whose wife recently died in an auto accident. The two were married for 26-years and now devastated by her death, Early makes a failed attempt at suicide which lands him in the care of his younger sister Laurette (Maura Tierney) who lives in Los Angeles with husband Ted (Christopher Thornton) and their teenage son Jack (Tanner Buchanan). The supporting cast is first-rate especially Maura Tierney as the overbearing sister.
Early attempts to get back on his feet by selling his insurance business and moving out of his sister’s L.A. home for a quaint apartment complex in Hollywood. Located in a seedy area (“don’t go in the park at night” warns one neighbor), Early soon meets the cast of misfits that live next door including a biracial couple (Margot Bingham and Micah Hauptman) on heroin and a transgender prostitute named Freda Von Rhenburg (Bomer). Of course, Early with his southern accent and poetic vocabulary straight out of a Tennessee Williams play, stands out like a sore thumb. Soon Freda begins calling him Miss Havisham because of the furnishings in his apartment and the two develop an unlikely friendship.
John Carroll Lynch is simply one of the best actors working today. Since his breakthrough role as Norm Gunderson in “Fargo”, the character actor has played everyone from Lyndon B. Johnson (“Jackie”) to hamburger entrepreneur Maurice McDonald (“The Founder”). His performance in “Anything” proves the versatile actor can handle any role. Matt Bomer known for playing Ken in the “Magic Mike” films executes a fearless portrayal of the film’s transgender protagonist. While some critics have criticized McNeil for not using a trans actor in the role, the dedication and commitment made by Bomer to get the role right should be applauded. The openly-gay Bomer worked closely with transgender producer Kylene Steele to deliver an authentic performance. She was on the set daily provide insights and tips that helped Bomer deliver a truthful portrayal of the struggles faced by the trans community.
“Anything” has been updated since McNeil’s play was first performed in 2007 with Mark Ruffalo starring opposite the writer-director. It was Ruffalo (credited here as an Executive Producer) who believed in the play’s powerful message of love and tolerance that pushed McNeil to adapt it into a feature film.
Now showing in Houston at the AMC Studio 30 and AMC Gulf Pointe 30. The film is also playing in Austin at Regal Gateway Stadium 16 & IMAX.