It’s a moment of empathy and acceptance that also reveals something key about Freda: She regards her identity as a cloak, a protective persona to shroud a traumatic past. Portraying a trans woman as masquerading rather than revealing her inner self feeds into destructive stereotypes (as does making her a sex worker), but Freda isn’t a malicious characterization, just a shortsighted one.
The overall tone of Anything is one of tender magnanimity. McNeil’s adaptation of his play (named best of 2008 by the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle) seeks to put everyone in the best possible light, a point emphasized by cinematographer James Laxton’s exquisite widescreen images, which make Los Angeles look as rosy as Early’s Mississippi hometown, with its inviting, well-ordered charm.
McNeil depicts a cramped Hollywood courtyard apartment complex as a misfit haven, where residents reluctantly welcome straight-laced Early, shattered by his wife’s sudden death. Lynch’s exchanges with Maura Tierney (as Early’s prickly sister) showcase his calm strength and heart-shattering fragility. He’s the ideal foil for a volatile Bomer, who expresses Freda’s self-protective hesitancy as pointed hostility. Early absorbs Freda’s pain into his own, and McNeil builds a delicate idyll from their defiant embrace of unexpected second chances.