John Carroll Lynch is a treasure. Whether he’s playing a supportive spouse in Fargo, a suspected killer in Zodiac, or a lunatic clown on American Horror Story, Lynch is the kind of character actor who elevates every project he’s involved in, imbuing even the most minor roles with a believability and a captivating humanity.
Which is why it’s such a treat to see him take the lead in Anything. Timothy McNeil’s romantic drama casts Lynch as Early, a Mississippi widower reeling from the recent death of his wife. After a suicide attempt, he relocates to Los Angeles to be closer to his overprotective but well-intentioned sister (Maura Tierney) and her family. He soon moves into an apartment of his own, and he’s equally intimidated and charmed by his Hollywood neighbors — especially the brash and glamorous Freda (Matt Bomer), a transgender sex worker. Before long, the two bond over their shared loneliness and past traumas, sparking a friendship and, eventually, a tentative romance.
Between the jangly indie soundtrack and the odd-couple romantic clichés, Anything frequently threatens to veer into melodrama. Bomer’s performance and McNeil’s compassionate script try to elevate Freda beyond a sassy stereotype that’s so frequently portrayed on screen, but ultimately, Freda is less of a fully fleshed-out character and more of a plot device who’s there to help Early with his own development. (The film has sparked controversy for casting Bomer, and you can’t help but wonder what an actual trans actress could’ve brought to the role.) But it’s Lynch who carries the movie, delivering a quiet, contemplative performance as a man trying to rebuild his life after losing everything. B-