There’s a great exchange in Harvey Fierstein’s Torch Song Trilogy in which Arnold’s mother chastises him for always making an issue of his orientation. He counters with an impassioned diatribe in which he describes the frustration of constantly being bombarded, by newspapers, billboards, magazines, TV shows, movies, plays, radio, with the insistent message of heterosexuality. Perhaps straight people are inured or numbed to it, but it can make a queer man or woman feel awfully lonely.
There have been an encouraging number of breakthroughs in the movie industry lately, but it’s difficult to fight the impression that some studios wave enlightened narratives in our faces, while backing off the material before the final cut. Notable exceptions would be Latter Days and Frida.
Film is a primarily visual medium so, when they make a movie from Michael Cunningham’s A Home at the End of the World, without visual explication — without the cajones to show two attractive men, naked and making love — I perceive this as a flaw. Which is not to say A Home at the End of the World isn’t a good movie.
In Home, we do see Jonathan and Bobby naked, but not at the same time. We never see the third principle, Clare, naked at all, which in the language of semiotic encoding, counts for a lot. What I liked best about this film was that it DID have the courage to show us a world where a man can choose another man over a woman, where this doesn’t amount to tragedy, revolution, or kink. What ran a close second was the proliferation of tenderness and protectiveness between Bobby and Jonathan, and earlier in the film, between Bobby and his older brother, Carlton. Ryan Donowho is the big brother all men wish they could have.
To appropriate the language of the film, these men make for each other a home in the world. They nurture, share bliss, care for, and encourage one another. Colin Farrell as Bobby Morrow is astounding as the orphan who creates family wherever he goes. When Bobby tells Clare he’s messed up, he’s probably referring to the fact that he doesn’t care how or why love happens. He just welcomes it. When they are teenagers and Jonathan’s mother catches them smoking pot, we’re amazed when Bobby offers her a hit, asks her to dance to Laura Nyro. And even more amazed when she accepts. But it makes complete sense.