A Home At the End of the World
This is a superb, sweet, funny film that tears at the heartstrings. Based on the novel by Michael Cunningham, the film explores the meaning of family and home and what you can achieve if you believe that the world is basically a wonderful place despite the terrible things that can happen to you.
Bobby is a unique character. We follow him through his life from the age of nine to when he becomes an adult. Shaped by the horrific events of his childhood, Bobbyís philosophy is that the world is a great big beautiful place and that there is nothing to fear. This belief seems to put a kind of enchantment on him, so that everyone he meets falls under his magical spell. Itís not really magical, itís just that he allows people to love him and in loving him, they come to love themselves a little bit more. Iím not a great fan of Colin Farrell, but he quite blew me away in this film. His vulnerabilities and his sweetness didnít seem acted at all, it was as if Bobby was a real person on screen, playing out his own life, and thatís quite an achievement for any actor.
The best of the film for me, of course, was that Bobbyís charms work on his best friend Jonathon, with whom he has an intense relationship. They explore sex together as teenagers. However, when they meet some years later in New York, there is Claire, a free-spirited young woman who is in love with Jonathon.
Thereís nothing conventional in this movie, neither the people nor the solutions they find to their lives.
†I urge you to watch this film; itís a total joy to watch.
1967, Cleveland, the Summer of Love.† Bobby age 9 sees his free spirited older brother Carlton have sex (ĎItís nothing but loveí), experiences an acid trip in a graveyard and loses someone close.† How all this affects Bobby as he grows from adolescence into manhood (along the way losing his family) is the substance of a carefully developed story about love, sex and death. Bobby is rather special, perhaps because he understands how vital it is that we take a chance at happiness because you never know whatís round the corner.
Seven years later, disarming and apparently innocent, Bobby (Erik Smith) works like a magic charm on childhood friend Jon (Harris Allen, QAFís Hunter) whoís figuring out heís gay and awkwardly in love with him, and Jonís mother (played by Sissy Spacek) a repressed housewife he teaches to smoke pot and lose her inhibitions.† Bobby gives people what they want.† In Jonís case thatís tentative sex and close friendship, though the combination of the two and complications of having Bobby come to live with the family eventually drives Jon to escape to New York.† Meanwhile Bobby stays home to become a baker.
Eventually, age 24 (now played by Colin Farrell in a hideous wig thankfully later ditched for a sexy crop) Bobby goes to New York to see Jon where he lives with beautiful Bohemian Claire (Robin Wright Penn) a hat-maker hopelessly in love with Jon, who fills the hole in his life left by Bobby with anonymous casual sex (itís the early 80s).† Together they make a family, the only thing Bobby has ever really wanted.† However it gets complicated when sex enters the picture, in a beautifully moving scene between Farrell and Wright, making a tension inducing relationship triangle.
Farrell is incredible, like Iíve never seen him before, slightly fey, emotionally vulnerable.† He has no idea what he does to those close to him.† You have to believe that or the whole thing falls apart.† He loves Jon (thereís a nice kiss shot) but Jonís jealousy of his relationship with Claire is a problem that threatens their family.† Whether Bobby is gay/straight/bi isnít the issue here, for he loves anyone willing to love him back, something I liked about him.
Together they move to an idyllic place out in the country (near Woodstock) where they set up home.† Weíre conditioned to love one significant other but a family with three parents has many advantages, an attractive proposition when itís so difficult to find one person who can be everything-partner, lover, parent.† There are so many pressures.† Can Bobby keep making everyone happy?† Can Claire and Jon accept what theyíve got even if itís not exactly what they want?† They all need and love each other, and together find home both in terms of a place to stay and an inner person they can be comfortable with.
I loved (identified with) Sissy Spacekís character.† The young actors playing teenage Bobby & Jon are amazing.† There are many beautiful moving moments. I liked Claire but resented how she comes between the boysÖshe even says it to Jon, What if Bobby is the love of your life?† We must make up our own minds what to think about them and the family they choose to make.
The film is as much about loss as it is about love, a complex and involving storyline that makes you think about things like how we canít live life to the full if weíre afraid of death.† AIDS is dealt with subtly avoiding melodrama in a way meaningful to the characters and their experiences.
The period detail is wonderful, and the evocative soundtrack- I grew up in the 60s and 70s so it was a delightful nostalgia trip.† I really liked this film.† It deals in complex issues both happy and sad and leaves many questions open.† Iím now going to get the book† (Michael Cunningham adapted his novel).† Definitely recommended.