Warner Bros. // 2004 // 97 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Elizabeth Skipper (Retired) // January 7th, 2005
"I don't suppose anybody knows what they're getting into, until they're into it."
That's exactly what I was saying to myself about halfway through A Home at the End of the World, but by then it was too late to turn back.
Bobby (eventually played by Colin Farrell, Alexander, S.W.A.T.) and Jonathan are such good friends that when Bobby is orphaned, he moves in with Jonathan's family. And since Bobby has smoked pot with Jonathan's mom (Sissy Spacek, In the Bedroom) and had a "gay experience" with Jonathan, he already feels right at home.
Jonathan, perhaps a little jealous of Bobby's closeness with his parents, or perhaps a little confused by his sexuality, takes off for New York after high school, leaving Bobby as a surrogate son. But when the parents decide to move to Arizona, 24-year-old Bobby is left orphaned once again and decides to make his way to New York as well.
Once there, he discovers that Jonathan is openly gay but living with a woman, Clare (Robin Wright Penn, White Oleander, The Princess Bride), and that they both have crushes on him. More interestingly, he reciprocates both those crushes, causing havoc among the three.
Clare becomes pregnant, and they decide the perfect relationship includes all three of them, so they buy a house in the country together and try to live happily ever after.
Think it will work?
I don't know how a screenplay adapted by Michael Cunningham (author of The Hours, which I adore in both novel and movie form) from his own novel could go so wrong, but A Home at the End of the World proves that I should never judge a movie by its author.
But since I've already made the mistake of watching it, I'll feel free to judge away.
Maybe the book is good; in fact, maybe it's as good as The Hours. I'm hoping Cunningham hasn't lost his touch and that he should just stick to writing novels and leave the screenplays for someone else. I can see the potential for greatness in Home, so perhaps it got lost in the translation to the screen. Whatever the reason, Home does not fare well as a movie. It moves too quickly, skipping what would seem to be key parts of Bobby's life (e.g., how did he spend the six years following high school?), and then too slowly, with an agonizing wait for the trio's inevitable implosion. And despite following Bobby and Jonathan from childhood, we never feel as if we really know any of the characters or their motivations. With such a story, internal monologue seems almost essential for understanding the characters; unfortunately, the movie gives us none of that. We are expected to figure them out on our own, but the dialogue doesn't give us enough to work with.
Still, A Home at the End of the World is not a bad movie, necessarily, but that's only because it's saved by Colin Farrell's quiet, innocent charm. He plays shy so well, with a voice that always sounds like it has a brogue, even when he's affecting an American accent. Sure, we don't know why he's doing what he's doing, but we enjoy watching him do it anyway. For Farrell alone, I will grant Home a stay of execution.
But believe me, that's a difficult thing to do with the almost complete lack of extras included on the disc. Other than a few previews, all we get is a brief and pointless featurette, "The Journey Home." Maybe a commentary would have shown me what I was missing and allowed me to enjoy Home a bit more, but this extra did nothing but waste my time.
The disc's audio and video transfers are unremarkable but get the job done. The 5.1 Dolby Digital surround mix at times has trouble with its volume levels, but otherwise the dialogue is clear and the music enjoyable. The 2.35:1 video shows no noticeable errors, though it is overly bright at times.
Okay, I'll be honest: I only requested this disc because I was hoping for an unrated version or an extended cut or something that would let me see the infamous Colin Farrell nude scene that was allegedly cut out because it was "too distracting." I was all ready to be distracted to my heart's content, but, alas, nothing. And a disappointment like that can't be recovered from easily.
I hesitate to recommend Home to you. The possibility exists that you will find something in it where I did not, but I'm not holding my breath. Do not, under any circumstances, buy this almost-bare-bones disc; if you insist on giving it a chance, rent it.
A Home at the End of the World is hereby found guilty of engaging in a deviant lifestyle. If you're going to be abnormal, at least be interesting.
Review content copyright © 2005 Elizabeth Skipper; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 97 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Featurette: "The Journey Home"
* Theatrical Trailer
* Trailers: Before Sunrise, We Don't Live Here Anymore, Criminal, and The Aviator