||A Home at the End of the World
2004 - R - 96 Mins.
|Director: Michael Mayer|
|Producer: John Hart|
|Written By: Michael Cunningham|
|Starring: Colin Farrell, Sissy Spacek, Dallas Roberts, Robin Wright Penn |
|Review by: Harrison Cheung
|Official Site: wip.warnerbros.com/ahome/|
Michael Cunningham adapted his own novel, ‘A Home At the End of the World’ into a disappointing, melancholy film that stops and starts as if it’s a collection of favorite bittersweet passages as opposed to any coherent plot or storyline. Some strong and intriguing performances aren’t enough to overcome the movie’s periodic improbability, clumsiness and basic inability to make the audience like or care about its strange cast of characters.
dazed, confused and horny
Bobby Morrow (Andrew Chalmers, Erik Smith and Colin Farrell – portrayed by 3 actors for 3 different ages) is a kid star-crossed by tragedy. However, his sadness makes him irresistible to men and women. From the beginning of the film, when we see him getting tutored about life, love and sex in 1967 from an equally whimsical older brother (the very charismatic Ryan Donowho), we know that this is a kid just on the other side of flower power. Big bro introduces him to pot and soon Bobby is the local popmaster.
Bobby uses pot as his calling card when he befriends a high school classmate, Jonathan Glover (Harris Allan, Dallas Roberts), who comes from a conservative family. The two become inseparable and… Bobby uses pot again to befriend Jonathan’s mom, Alice (Sissy Spacek). Say what? Yes, in the first of many unbelievable scenes, Bobby offers a joint to his new friend’s mom and they all get along wonderfully, dancing to Laura Nyro. “Don’t tell your father,” Alice warns Jonathan. Yup, that could happen.
Thank goodness for pot, because Jonathan’s mom becomes the mellowest and most unlikely mother in the world. She doesn’t freak when she catches her son and his new friend having sex, and she seems fine to adopt Bobby, once he becomes an orphan – in another unexplained and convenient scene. Presumably the book explains what’s happening better, but the transition from high school masturbatory buddy to adopted son and now live-in masturbatory buddy seemed way too contrived.
Jonathan’s mother and father adore Bobby, especially when he stays with them in Cleveland while Jonathan heads to New York to find himself. There in the Big Apple, Jonathan comes out of the closet and moves into a giant apartment with his own fag hag, Clare (Robin Wright Penn), a divorced hat maker who dresses like Nina Hagen (it’s 1982 and very punk at this point). But Bobby makes his own way to New York – in the form of Colin Farrell – and Clare falls in love with him, making poor Jonathan angry about his much-loved-by-everyone adopted brother. Even Bobby’s nude spooning and dirty dancing isn’t enough to console Jonathan’s feelings of inadequacy, especially when Clare decides that she wants a baby. Who do you think is going to donate the sperm?
The buzz around ‘Home’ centered on Farrell’s daring performance – he effortlessly moves between the sexes, like everyone's favorite teddy bear. But the story never explains why Bobby's particularly irresistible as opposed to just weird and eccentric. As depicted in the film, Bobby is pretty much damaged goods so there’s a creepiness when so many people comfort him sexually.
The rest of the film is a ham-fisted case for bisexuality. There’s some charm in this unorthodox family but the film never fully explores the relationships before concluding in a tragic arc. The problem lies in the adaptation where a highly complex ménage a trois is boiled down into a 96 minute soap opera with ungainly rhythm and unsatisfactory exposition. Thank goodness for pot, indeed!