It’s rarely a good idea to film a movie partially about sexual confusion when the audience is just as confused as the characters. Then again it’s not really about homosexuality or bisexuality or sexuality period. It’s about love and friendship and a number of other simplified terms to tell a simplified tale about three characters who never seem clear about which parts they should be putting where.The film begins in the late 60s with 9-year old Bobby (Andrew Chalmers) and either the coolest or most irresponsible older brother in history, Carlton (Ryan Donowho). He dotes on young Bobby by taking him on acid trips and inviting him into bed just seconds after his naked girlfriend mistook him for Seabiscuit. Thank God he didn’t ask Bobby to sit on his lap. When Carlton dies in the one of the most tragically funny scenes in some time, well, he does just that – dies. Now we can jump forward in time to when Bobby’s parents will pass along too. This inevitably leads to the awkward moment when their gravestones are lined up and you find yourself doing the year math to piece together the timeline instead of caring that anyone is dead.
So, without a family or a home, 15-year old Bobby (Erik Smith) moves in with newfound best friend, Jonathan (Harris Allan). They didn’t have video games or VCRs for sleepovers in the early 70s, so they spent their time playing with each other. No board games or toys were involved. Bobby introduces Mama Glover (Sissy Spacek) to pot and an underlying mommy issue is all too uncloaked.
Jump forward again to the early 80s. Bobby (Colin Farrell) still lives with the Glovers while Jonathan (Dallas Roberts) has moved away to live with divorced “fag-hag” Clare (Robin Wright Penn). A visit turns into a residence. Already surfaced feelings are put on the back burner while Bobby and Jonathan go to their respective corners. Bobby gets hooked on Clare (“mama’s gonna show you a few things” – ew). Rumors that Farrell’s shlong is on display have been greatly exaggerated. Truth is the appendage was (turn your head and cough) snipped. It was also reportedly so long that it extended over into Alexander and had to be cut out of that film too. But, we digress, as does Jonathan to any willing male in a kiloton radius. You can set your watch by how long it takes for someone to look at their body and wonder “is that a bruise?”
Therein lies the major problem with A Home At The End Of The World; it’s way too crowded for a 95-minute movie. 10-15 minutes here and there couldn’t have helped much since director Michael Mayer and screenwriter/original novelist Michael Cunningham (The Hours) want to cover every major shift in the dozen years of these people lives. Farrell is like a lost puppy that needs bread crumbs to get to where he’s supposed to be. We never understand who Clare is except as a person who often likes to change her hair color. Jonathan is a whiner whose favorite hobbies are running away and blaming others. Sorry, but it’s hard to pick up much more when each scene lasts an average of 28 seconds.The Hours was certainly no picnic, but at least there was a scope to it that explored who its people were meant to be. To arrive at the conclusion on hand here is as anti-climactic as any romantic comedy where we assume its natural finality well before the people on screen do. But the journey is made up of halves and have-nots with some good actors giving very monotonous performances to already dull characters.