out of Five
Running time: 95
Potentially interesting story that doesn’t quite translate to the screen, despite good performances from its cast.
A Home At The End Of The World already has its own fair share of notoriety; it’s best known for consigning Colin Farrell’s full-frontal nude scene to the cutting-room floor, allegedly because it “frightened” test audiences. It’s a shame, because the film could have really used a hook like that (no matter how shallow or obvious), as the story itself lacks any kind of dramatic impact.
Based On The Novel
The film is based on the novel by Michael Cunningham, who also wrote the screenplay. This, coupled with the fact that it’s directed by theatre director Michael Mayer (making his feature film debut), goes some way to explaining why the movie is overly wordy and stagy. It centres on a young man named Bobby Morrow, played by Andrew Chalmers, then Erik Smith and finally Colin Farrell. As a young boy, Bobby loses his family members one by one, including his brother in a particularly shocking incident (the film’s most dramatic scene) that is partly his fault.
After the deaths of his own parents, he is taken in by the parents (Sissy Spacek and Matt Frewer) of his geeky best friend Jonathan (Harris Allan, then Dallas Roberts) and the two boys form an extremely close attachment to each other.
Years later, Bobby moves to New York and again moves in with Jonathan, as well as with Jonathan’s free-spirited lover, Clare (Robin Wright Penn). Things are complicated because Jonathan loves Bobby, Clare loves Jonathan (but sleeps with Bobby anyway) and Bobby…well, Bobby seems to love everybody. The intriguing thing about the film is that somehow, they manage to make this work, so instead of the expected arguments and fall-outs, they form another, wildly unconventional family unit.
Unusual Role For Farrell
This is an unusual role for Colin Farrell and he handles himself well, proving that he’s an actor first and a movie star second. It’s a sweet, subtle performance, but unfortunately it backfires because Bobby is so incredibly passive that we never really get inside him. For example, we never see him angry or even especially happy and, while it may work in a novel, it doesn’t translate well to the screen.
The supporting cast are equally good, particularly Roberts and Penn, whose roles are somewhat meatier, and it’s always good to see Matt Frewer in a film. However, the stand-out is Sissy Spacek, who’s delightful as Jonathan’s mother; the scene where she gets stoned with the boys is a definite highlight. Sadly, she isn’t in it nearly enough and the film really misses her once she’s gone.
In short, this is worth seeing for Farrell and Spacek’s performances, but it’s never particularly emotionally involving, which is a shame, given the dramatic potential of the material.