A Home at the End of the World (2004) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

One of the very few smart things I've ever written about movies can be found in my review of Tigerland, written about four years ago, before anyone was aware of Colin Farrell.

I was especially astounded by the performance of Colin Farrell as Bozz. He's an Irish stage actor, and he transforms himself into the perfect independent-minded Texas boy. This fella may have a hell of a future.

Farrell's subsequent performances have not been universally brilliant, but he has unquestionably become a star of international repute, based on his flamboyant private life as much as on his acting chops. He has the perfect combination of attributes for celebrity - talent, looks, recklessness, and an unquenchable sex drive.

In this film, he also proves that he is not just a star, but also one hell of an actor. In the past, many of his roles have called for extensions of his larger-than-life public persona - cheeky, dominant, and wild. The character he plays in this film could not be farther from that. It is a blissful, submissive, shy, passive, tame, sexually ambiguous hippie who just wants everyone around him to be mellow. I guess any good actor could play a part so far from type, but what distinguishes Colin as more than good, as a great actor, is that he shows no signs that he is acting. If you did not already know what Colin Farrell is like, you would assume that this character is just what Colin is like. He has no trouble at all with the American accent - you'd never suspect that he isn't an American. His overall performance is unaffected, natural, and completely free from artifice. It is also warm, generous, and tremendously likeable. Suddenly, I understand completely why Colin is so successful with women.

... speaking of which ...

This film is already semi-famous for all the wrong reasons. As a film, it is virtually unknown, despite some decent reviews and a respectable festival run. It never reached more than 65 theaters, and grossed only about a million dollars in the entire United States - and even that modest achievement took 14 weeks of arthouse distribution. As a cultural phenomenon, however, it is much discussed.

Oh, you can't remember hearing of this film by name. Neither could I. But you've heard of it all right. This is the film where the screening of Colin Farrell's reputedly Brobdingnagian tallywacker caused such a stir that the director ended up cutting it out of the film. The San Francisco Gate described the controversy as follows:

According to a British newspaper the Sun, nude scenes spotlighting actor Colin Farrell's full-frontal manhood have been cut from his new film, "A Home at the End of the World." Sounds painful, eh? The paper quoted an undisclosed publicist -- sorry, an undisclosed source -- as claiming the dimensions of the offending member disrupted a test screening. "The women were overexcited," said the source, "and the men looked really uncomfortable."

Colin was said to be very upset that the scene was snipped, and was insisting that the scene be restored to the DVD. I have just watched the DVD, and I saw no sign of any gigantic penises,  so I guess the deleted scene remains deleted. There are no deleted scenes included in the DVD extras. The disc does have a featurette, but I fast-forwarded through that and didn't see any sign of an elephantine manroot. I don't think I could have missed it, since it is apparently the size of Costa Rica.

Cutting Farrell's mighty member seems kind of hypocritical to me, in light of the fact that an actress is shown naked in a completely unnecessary scene (a flashback to Colin's childhood, and memories of his beloved older brother), and that the nudity is quite explicit. Oh, well, I guess the size of Colin's prodigious flesh-rocket will have to remain a whispered and undocumented secret.

Getting back to the subject of the movie for a minute, it is a pretty good one. "Why?", you ask. I suppose there are many reasons why a film can be called "good", and in this case I felt that way because it made me totally uncomfortable. "Huh?", you respond. You see, I felt like I was watching people's home movies. I got the illusion that many of the moments in their lives were really happening, and were so personal and intimate that I had no business watching. Colin Farrell was the best of the cast at conveying that intimacy, but Sissy Spacek almost matched him beat for beat. To my way of thinking, that kind of honesty is very effective and convincing filmmaking.

What's it about? Not much of anything. The plot is meandering. It's character-driven personal history, I guess. Other people might call it a soap opera which encompasses decades of life. It's not for the homophobic. Its author, Michael Cunningham, is widely celebrated in the world of gay and lesbian authors, and he won a Pulitzer Prize for his other major novel, The Hours. Queer Studies describes the source novel for A Home at the End of the World as follows:

Michael Cunningham's celebrated novel is the story of two boyhood friends: Jonathan, lonely, introspective, and unsure of himself; and Bobby, hip, dark, and inarticulate. In New York after college, Bobby moves in with Jonathan and his roommate, Clare, a veteran of the city's erotic wars. Bobby and Clare fall in love, scuttling the plans of Jonathan, who is gay, to father Clare's child. Then, when Clare and Bobby have a baby, the three move to a small house in upstate New York to raise "their" child together and, with an old friend, Alice, create a new kind of family. A Home at the End of the World masterfully depicts the charged, fragile relationships of urban life today.

It traces the friendship of the two friends from boyhood to adulthood. They become close. The one boy is definitely gay, and the other (Farrell) just wants to please people and connect with them, so he becomes his friend's lover. He also becomes kind of a fantasy lover for the friend's mom (Spacek), and by the time the kids grow up, he takes on a female lover when the two young men get embroiled in a strange triangular love with an eccentric aging hippie chick (Robin Wright). The Colin Farrell character is simply having sex or making connections with everyone of both sexes, although he never actually initiates sex, and is perfectly content going without sex during those periods when he's separated from his closest acquaintances. Farrell's first encounter with Wright and the first encounter between the two boys are both painfully intimate scenes. Colin's scenes with Spacek, on the other hand, are not painful to watch, and in fact they portray a unique and very sweet May-December relationship of some kind, but those scenes still create an illusion that we are eavesdropping when we should not be.


  • Asia Vieira shows everything, including her labia in a brief open view, as the girlfriend of the older brother of the Colin Farrell Character.
  • Dallas Roberts shows his bum.
  • Colin Farrell's gargantuan member was reported exposed to test audiences, but was trimmed from the theatrical and DVD releases.

DVD info from Amazon

  • widescreen anamorphic

  • a trailer and one minor featurette

  • see the main commentary for additional details

The main characters go through various travails. Since it is based on a Michael Cunningham novel, you can bet that everyone will be of indeterminate or confused sexuality, and that AIDS will rear its ugly head. Based on its reputation, The Hours must be considered the better of the two books, but I liked this intimate film much better than the film version of The Hours, which seemed very artificial, rhetorical and stagy to me.

The Critics Vote ...

  • Super-panel consensus: three stars. BBC 3/5, Roger Ebert 3.5/4.

The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a C+. Sensitive, personal story about friendships between sexually ambiguous and/or confused characters, featuring some excellent performances. I found it much more down-to-earth and intimate than the author's other film adaptation, The Hours. Needless to say, the film has a very limited target audience, but those who like it should like it very much.

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