Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
THE off-screen antics of Colin Farrell go some way to diminishing
the impact of his on-screen performance in A Home At The End of
the World, an intriguing but not entirely successful look at an
unconventional relationship between two men from 1967 through
to the early 1980s.
Farrell stars as Bobby Morrow, a quietly spoken misfit, who
has grown up amid some terrible personal tragedies and cannot
stand to be alone.
Naive, confused, yet desperate for love, he befriends fellow
student, Jonathan (played by newcomer, Dallas Roberts) and is
quickly adopted by his family, which is headed up by Sissy Spacek's
liberal-minded, joint-smoking mother.
Yet the bond which forms between the two men remains with them
through life, so much so that Bobby eventually follows Jonathan
to New York, where he meets and falls in love with Robin Wright
Penn's frustrated hatmaker, Clare.
When Clare eventually becomes pregnant, the trio resolve to
set up home together, creating a dysfunctional family that is
rife with confusion, as each member comes to terms with their
feelings for each other.
Stage director, Michael Mayer, has lovingly crafted an intense,
personal and totally character-driven movie, based on Michael
Cunningham's screenplay, which has been adapted from his own novel.
Yet, try as hard as it might, the film never feels as emotionally
engaging as it should.
Much of this has to do with the story arcs of the characters,
which some may find a little too contrived for their own good.
For instance, it is clear that Bobby and Jonathan love each
other, yet their relationship flits from being sexually driven
and experimental, to brotherly and borderline paternal.
Needless to say, the presence of
Clare confuses matters still further, particularly as Clare, herself,
has feelings for both men, and probably loves the outwardly gay
Jonathan the most.
The decision to start a family therefore seems something of
a mistake from the outset, and Cunningham's predictable screenplay
does little to disprove this theory.
What's more, Farrell seems to be struggling to cope with the
demands of the role, playing totally against type and looking
and feeling a little awkward to boot.
When he kisses Jonathan for the first time, audiences will probably
be thinking something like 'that's Colin Farrell kissing a guy',
while the scene in which he confesses to Clare that he is a virgin,
at 20, almost brings out the sniggers.
It says much about the actor's performance that he is unable
to convince in either scenario.
The same cannot be said for Roberts, who provides a memorable
portrayal of Jonathan, even if he, too, has trouble courting the
sympathy of the audience.
Penn, meanwhile, brings the same sort of cooky charm to her
role as she has done in a number of performances, most notably
Forrest Gump, which found her as a similarly tragic character.
Mayer's direction, while predictable, does delight in several
places, displaying a keen eye for the look of each era, and using
his characters' fashion sense (both in terms of dress and hairstyle)
to generate much of the humour.
But he dispenses with one of the better characters far too early
and, aside from Spacek, provides very few people to truly identify
His film also feels a little too tightly packed, given that it
moves from the late 60s to the early 80s in a meagre 90 minutes,
chronicling everything from the free love of the Woodstock era
to the advent of the AIDS epidemic in the early 80s.
So while clearly a labour of love for all involved, the film
ultimately cannot sustain the weight of its own ambition, or the
baggage that its central star brings to proceedings.