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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Home at the End of the World
Home at the End of the World
Warner Bros. // R // November 2, 2004
List Price: $27.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Robert Spuhler | posted December 7, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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When a movie has no discernable plot, other than following a character's life story, the character and those (s)he interacts with much be fascinating enough on their own to engage the viewer.

A Home at the End of the World follows Bobby (Colin Farrell), a boy who grows up to be a man seeking love from anyone and everyone because of his past. But the script can't make Bobby interesting enough to warrant following for a full film, and even a solid performance be Farrell can hold the audience's attention.

Through vignettes from different periods of his life, A Home at the End of the World shows us the life of Bobby, a bisexual dealing with abandonment issues. His mother leaves early in life, he watches his brother die, his father passes on before he leaves high school, and Bobby finds himself alone in the world. He eventually finds his way into the arms of both Jonathan (Dallas Roberts) and Claire (Robin Wright Penn), but can he keep up a three-way relationship?

In order to make a film like this work, the performances have to be top-notch. The best part of A Home at the End of the World is that all three central actors are at the top of their game here. It's cliché to say – why is alternative sexuality still seen as such a "risk" for an actor? Haven't they been to West Hollywood? – but Farrell took a major chance in taking on the role of Bobby, with his confused sexuality and "any port in a storm" approach to both friendship and love. He turns in a subdued, underplayed performance that fits in so well with the script and overall feel. Penn and Roberts both do extremely well in rounding out the love triangle.

Unfortunately, there's just not enough to do here for the film to make a mark. Michael Cunningham's script tries to cover so many aspects of Bobby's life that nothing gets the attention it really deserves. The constant timeshifting does the story no favors, either; the first minutes of each scene are spent trying to figure out where in time the present falls.

In addition, it's hard to see why Claire and Jonathan stay with Bobby at times. We never really understand either of them. While it is Bobby's story, a deeper insight into those two characters would have created a stronger dynamic, one that might have raised the stakes. As it is, by the time Claire makes her climatic decision, we have little idea why she's making it now and not a decade or so earlier.

Finally, many of the issues of Bobby's upbringing have been dealt with better elsewhere. We've seen the latchkey kid story done so many times, and this version does not add any new insights to the canon.

The DVD

Video:

For what it's worth, the transfer of A Home at the End of the World is fantastic. The colors are incredibly sharp, especially in the countryside shots and with the exception of the occasional shimmer on white edges, there are no digital flaws. The 2.35:1 aspect ratio is anamorphic.

Audio:

The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is overkill for such a dialogue-heavy film, but it does its job admirably. The dialogue is very clear throughout, even when Farrell mumbles (and he does mumble – often).

Extras:

The only extras provided are a trailer and a run-of-the-mill "behind the scenes" documentary, a six-minute fluff piece that likely served as the electronic press kit.

Final Thoughts:

More atmosphere than plot and more character-driven than story, A Home at the End of the World never manages to engage viewers. It keeps the audience at arm's length throughout, never letting us get inside the mind of two of the characters, and the motivations of the third are so paper-thin and apparent that the tremendous amount of time devoted to backstory is unwarranted.

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