STARRING: JOHN CARROLL LYNCH; MATT BOMER; MAURA TIERNEY
DIRECTED BY: TIMOTHY MCNEIL
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 2 ½ STARS (out of 4)
Finally we have a movie that makes well-known character actor John Carroll Lynch as the leading star. Unfortunately, in that same movie, we also set-back the transgender community with the casting of Matt Bomer in a role that is over the top, stereotypical, and nothing more than a gimmick instead of a performance. Anything, is a film that could and should have been great, but instead it settles for mediocre and uses multiple cliches to get its point across. Director/writer Timothy McNeil has something on his hands, but squanders it, in a film about a widower who lost his wife of 27-years to a car accident, attempts suicide, moves to Los Angeles to be with his family, and finds companionship in his transgender neighbor named Freda (Bomer). The message of loving everyone is nice, the performance from Lynch is great, hence the reason why I’m giving it a semi-positive review, but Anything tries too hard to be more than it is.
Getting the controversy out of the way, it’s almost impossible to not mention the decision to cast Bomer in the role of Freda instead of an actual transgender woman. At this point, Hollywood knows that casting choices are important to various communities. The LGBT community wants more gay, lesbian, and trans people in mainstream roles. That should not be hard. Last years A Fantastic Woman proved with Daniela Vega that it’s possible to do and possible to succeed as well. It doesn’t help that the role of Freda is written as a prostitute, an addict, in-your-face, and melodramatic at most times. Not all transgender people are like this, in fact, most are just people trying to get on with their lives. Bomer’s performance feels like a low-rate interpretation of what Jared Leto did in Dallas Buyers Club.
This controversy sadly feels wedged into a movie that has a tender heart and wants to give John Carroll Lynch an opportunity to stretch his acting legs. His role as Early is strong, a gentle southern man, someone whose entire life had been his relationship with his wife. Her loss is devastating, sending him to the liquor cabinet to drown his sorrows away. Lynch, who successfully directed his fantastic debut film Lucky last year, is more than capable to carry a film as an actor, and McNeil is aware of this in scenes where he has genuine, human conversations with his sister played by the always sturdy Maura Tierney, his junkie neighbors Brianna (Margot Bingham) and David (Micah Hauptman). These various supporting characters shine an even brighter light on Freda being used as a device instead of an actual character. It’s sad too because Anything could be great.
To some I may be focusing on the casting choice too much, but face the facts; casting choices matter today more than ever before. Films like Black Panther, Get Out, A Fantastic Woman, Wonder Woman, and All the Money in the World are proof of that very practice. When the actors are given a chance to shine in a role, they usually rise to the occasion. Bomer, however, does the best with what the script tells him. I wouldn’t blame him for any mistakes. The shame falls on the director and the producers. Either way, it’s nice to see John Carroll Lynch flourish in a role that highlights his strong work. Keep trying Hollywood, if Anything…at least were inching closer to telling better stories.
2 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady