Already notorious as the film from which Colin Farrell's manhood was cruelly chopped, A Home At The End Of The World manages perfectly well without that absent full-frontal flash - reportedly snipped because test audiences found it too distracting. Indeed, Michael Mayer's slow-burning relationship drama is revealing enough without such shock tactics. While the rambling storyline and extended time-frame betrays the script's novelistic roots, soulful performances from Farrell, Sissy Spacek and newcomer Dallas Roberts make this a rich and emotionally rewarding experience.
In 1967 Cleveland, nine-year-old Bobby Morrow (Andrew Chalmers) sees his family life shattered when his beloved older brother dies in a freak household accident. Seven years later, the teenage Bobby (Erik Smith) finds a surrogate family when he befriends gawky, confused adolescent Jonathan (Harris Allan).
"A MATURE, HEARTFELT AND INTIMATE PIECE"
These early scenes of tentative experimentation with sex and drugs - the latter revealed in a delightful interlude with Jonathan's pot-smoking mom (Spacek) - are undoubtedly the most accomplished in Mayer's quietly impressive debut feature, and they supply a firm foundation for the more diffused second half, charting the boys' uneasy passage into maturity.
In fact, the film is a third over before we meet the grown-up Bobby (Farrell in a hilarious hippy wig), whose attempts to create a new, unconventional family unit with the adult, openly gay Jonathan (Roberts) and flame-haired wild-child Clare (Robin Wright Penn) unfold against the decadent backdrop of 80s New York.
Adapted from his own book by The Hours' Michael Cunningham, A Home At The End of The World demands a certain quota of patience and goodwill from the viewer in order to cast its spell. Meet it halfway, though, and you'll find a mature, heartfelt and intimate piece that, if nothing else, shows what an impressive performer Farrell can be when he stops hell-raising long enough to focus on the job at hand.