Tuesday , September 22 2020

A Home at the End of the World

Directed by Michael Mayer
Written by Michael Cunningham based on his novel

A Home at the End of the World is an unconventional love story about Bobby and Jonathan, two young men who grow up in suburban Ohio in the late ’60s and reunite in New York City in the early ’80s. While in New York, they form a new type of family when Bobby and Jonathan’s roommate Clare, have a baby and want Jonathan to be a second father to the child. Jonathan was also interested in Clare. They had talked about having a baby together before Bobby moved in, and he’s upset that he has lost two people that he loves to each other and feels betrayed. Unannounced, he runs off to Arizona to be with his parents. Bobby and Clare go to Arizona for the funeral of Jonathan’s father. They ask him to come back so they can be one big family and with Clare’s money they buy a house in the country.

The film presents us with interesting questions about what love and family can be, but I’m not sure what the author is trying to say with the way the relationships play out in the film. The circumstances are definitely believable with the characters we’ve been presented; yet there’s no surprise in the results. I was expecting to walk away with more to think about, more of a challenge to what is considered the norm. It comes out at an interesting time as conservatives tell everyone how marriage and families should be defined since they have done such a fine job with it.

Jonathan is very active sexually and since part of the story takes place in the early ’80s, it is inevitable that he gets AIDS. He discovers a bruise or discoloration of some type on his body. Bobby tries to put his mind at ease, but they both know what is happening. I was worried that the film would have the stereotypical death scene of Jonathan’s frail body, but the filmmakers went a different, more interesting route and it was welcome relief.

The cast is fantastic in their creation of these people. Colin Farrell gets all kind of publicity for being a hell-raising, bad boy, but here he captures Bobby’s innocence and softness in very subtle ways. Sissy Spacek is wonderful as Jonathan’s mother, Alice. She’s not on screen for very long, but she is able to present a lot of what it is to be a mother. I know it’s early, but they should be considered when the awards season hits.

The production crew does a wonderful job capturing the look of the different time periods from the clothes and hair to the sets. When subtitles of the years appear on screen, they really aren’t needed because they are conveyed through the crew’s work. There’s never a doubt of when the story is taking place.

Behind the scenes, we have another film where the star is upset that he didn’t get to show his penis in a film. Colin, get over yourself. It is inconsequential. I hope, for your sake, that is the first and last time someone uses that sentence in reference to your penis. All you were doing was walking around an apartment, which added nothing to the character, plot or theme of the film. See Boogie Nights for an example of when it’s integral to a movie for it to be shown. I’m sure it’ll show up on the deleted scenes of the DVD, but if you really need to have everyone see you in all your glory, make a sex tape, release it, then deny you released.

When deciding whom to see the film with, be advised that it earns its R rating by starting off the first few minutes with a nine-year-old kid walking into his brother’s room and sees naked girl riding him, the kid and the brother taking acid in a graveyard, a horrible, bloody accident, teenagers smoking pot with one of their mothers, and two boys giving each other hand jobs. It’s not necessarily for mixed company as I can attest since I found it a little uncomfortable watching it with my mother. She’s a grown woman and I don’t think she was surprised by anything she saw, but it was a little startling as the scenes played out because I didn’t know what her reaction would be. She found the film to be interesting, and luckily, on the way home we only discussed the film and not our experiences that may or may not have related to what was in the film.

About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS

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