A Home at the End of the World (2004)
A Film Review
Copyright Dragan Antulov 2005
While there is little doubt about whether Colin Farrell is a good actor or not, it still remains to be seen will he last as Hollywood star. Last year wasn't very kind for him due to the spectacular fiasco of ALEXANDER, film in which he played a bisexual character with bad wig. He did the same in another, less expensive and less known A HOME AT THE END OF THE WORLD, drama directed by Michael Mayer.
The script for the film was written by Michael Cunnigham, novelist best known as the author of THE HOURS. The plot begins in Cleveland 1967, when we are introduced to the film's protagonist Bobby Powel (played by Andrew Chalmers), who is 9 years at the time. His older brother, true child of 1960s, introduces him to the drugs and concepts of free love only to lose life in bizarre incident at the party. Years pass and in 1970s adolescent Bobby (played by Erik Smith) loses both of his parents, but finds surrogate family through his best friend from school, nerdy Jonathan Glover (played by Harris Alan), with whom he would have his first sexual experiences. Years pass and two best friends separate - in early 1980s Bobby (played by Farrell) works as a baker, while Jonathan (played by Dallas Roberts) enjoys openly gay lifestyle in bohemian circles of New York. When Bobby comes to visit him, Jonathan lives with his platonic best friend Clare (played by Robin Wright Penn). Soon a threesome develops, with kind-hearted virgin Bobby all too willing to help Clare have a baby.
A HOME AT THE END OF THE WORLD, just like THE HOURS, features sexually ambivalent characters experiencing melodramatic amounts of misery only to ultimately find some happiness in same-sex relationship. However, two films are very different in tone, style and, ultimately, quality. A HOME AT THE END OF THE WORLD is shorter than THE HOURS and this is the main reason why Michael Cunnigham should be pleased with this adaptation of his work. First-time director Michael Mayer was forced to move the plot quickly, thus depriving the film of long, pretentious dialogues and unnecessary characters. Instead of annoying soundtrack by Philip Glass, the music background of this film is provided by 1970s and 1980s pop. But the most important difference between two films is its generally uplifting atmosphere - all of the characters are kind-hearted and well-intentioned, projecting almost a fairytale cheerfulness at odds with generally depressing events of the plot. Just like its angelic protagonist, the film tries desperately tries to please the audience.
Just like in many other cases, authors' good intentions, however, aren't enough to create a good film. A HOME AT THE END OF THE WORLD features fine cast - Farrell is acceptable in lead role, despite bad wig and emptiness of his character, while almost unrecognisable Robin Wright Penn steals the show. However, good acting can't compensate for the major plot problems. The separation of Bobby and Jonathan in the middle of the film is never explained, which leaves the huge gap that the film failed to fill and only makes the cliches, which start to multiply at the end, more annoying. Although watchable, A HOME AT THE END OF THE WORLD is ultimately nothing more than another sad example of American independent cinema succumbing to the same disease that have plagued Hollywood mainstream.
RATING: 3/10 (+)