- May 7, 2001
A Home At The End Of The World
Studio: Warner Brothers
Film Length: 97 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Enhanced Widescreen
Audio: DD 5.1
Subtitles: English, French & Spanish
Package: Single disc/Keepcase
Late last year, Warner Bros. Entertainment announced the creation of Warner Independent Pictures, an autonomous film label to be headed by Mark Gill as its President who spent numerous years at Miramax and Columbia/Tri Star. The intent of the new independent label is to distribute and market all genres of films, with varying budgets to all audiences and not be limited by traditional, mainstream releases.
The initial strategy is for Warner Independent to produce or acquire up to 10 films per year with production budgets up to $20 million for worldwide release, drawing from new directors and established filmmakers, as well as from international filmmakers who are already a part of Warner Bros. Pictures International's film production and distribution program. Warner Independent will also acquire films that are better suited for a boutique-like release slate.
A Home At The End Of The World is a film that was based on the novel written by Michael Cunningham (who also wrote the novel for which The Hours was based upon), in addition to writing the screenplay adaptation. The year is 1967 in Cleveland, Ohio, and Bobby Morrow (played by Andrew Chalmers), who we’ll see at varying ages throughout the film, is nine years old and likes to hang out with his cool but older brother. The young boy seems rather distant and removed and idolizes his older brother, hanging from every word he utters. Bobby’s world changes drastically when his brother dies in a freak but incredibly disturbing accident.
The film forwards us to 1974 when Bobby (now played by Erik Smith) is a young adolescent, who spends a great of time experimenting with drugs, his sexuality and pretty much everything in life. In school, he befriends another seemingly introverted student, Jonathan Glover (played by Harris Allan) and they eventually become very close friends. And as if Bobby hasn’t had to endure enough already, he looses both of his parents. Fortunately, Bobby is taken in by the Glovers (played by Sissy Spacek and Matt Frewer) and treated as one of their own. After a late night encounter between Jonathan and Bobby, we realize that Jonathan is gay and it would appear that both boys are seeking love and affection.
Fast forward yet another decade to 1984 and Bobby (now played by Colin Farrell) is still in Cleveland working as a baker who hasn’t seen his life-long friend Jonathan (now played by Dallas Roberts) for several years after he left for New York to attend university. Still living with the Glovers, circumstances dictate them to move to Arizona, but Bobby packs up for New York and winds up staying with Jonathan and his new roommate Clare, (played by Robin Wright Penn). Bobby realizes the complexity of the relationship since he is aware of Jonathan’s sexual preference but Clare, who loves Jonathan, wants very much to have a relationship with him and for him to father a child with her.
Things become extremely complicated when Bobby (who has never been with a woman before), falls in love with Clare and they eventually have a baby. It isn’t long before they decide to buy a house in the country and ask Jonathan to join them – eventually opening a small diner in a nearby town.
However, life is complex. It becomes clear one night as she watches Bobby and Jonathan dancing on the front porch, that his feelings for his long-time friend are unwavering. No matter how much Clare loves Bobby, she knows his undivided love belongs to his life-long friend, Jonathan. Soon, Clare must make a decision to stay with the father of her child, knowing she’ll never have the man she truly loves or to leave them alone to be in peace.
While the film does play out on the soapier side of things, I couldn’t help but walk away after being awestruck by Colin Farrell’s performance. Typically known for his smooth and fast-talking tough guy persona, he’s none of that in this film. He’s a young man who has had to endure more heartache as a young teen than most of us do in a lifetime. While his friends seem to know what they want in life, Bobby seems confused, wanting nothing more than to please those who surround him. Unfortunately, time moves fast in this film covering a span of almost twenty years in less than an hour, so character development is lacking at times. But, even though we haven’t been afforded the opportunity to meld with the trio, there is still enough sincerity and heartfelt feelings present to allow us empathize with these likeable but confused characters. And while he’s relatively new to the game, this is without question Colin Ferrell’s finest performance to date.
The Feature: 3.5/5
This was my first experience with a disc from the newer WB Independent label and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I wasn’t disappointed.
Colors were extremely vibrant – perhaps even slightly over saturated at times, but mostly pleasing, and flesh tones appeared real and accurate. Blacks were deep and whites were always clean and crisp. The level of shadow detail was perfect, however, contrast was a tad on the high side.
The level of image definition looked impressive, however, the overall image was slightly softer than we’ve become accustomed to with new releases, but I can’t imagine this is transfer related. There were numerous close-ups that looked terrific, rendering an extremely sharp image.
The film had little if any noticeable film-grain, save for the early part of the film which took place in the late 60’s. The look of the film (including the colors) took on a slightly grittier feel, presumably to capture the mood of the period.
The print was free of any dust or dirt nor were there any examples of scratches or blemishes. Shimmer or jitter was never an issue as the image was rock solid. There were no compression errors to speak of nor was edge enhancement ever an issue.
A very nice job.
The disc is encoded with a 5.1 DD track that is effective, though not remarkable.
The overall tonality of the track is natural and is free of any hiss or other noisy distractions. Dialogue was mostly clear and bold, however, there several occasions when speech was slightly strained – very slightly.
There is a ton of music throughout the course of this film but the soundstage is just satisfactorily wide. Though the music sounds good, it’s not likely to leave a lasting impression. Same with dynamics – satisfactory, but they fall short of being impressive.
The majority of this film is anchored to the front end, and even though the track is 5.1, the surrounds were used very sparingly – almost to a point of being ineffective, and in fairness to the disc, the majority of what takes place is dialogue. These could have been used to a greater extent, at least for the sake of a more enveloping experience. LFE was never a standout.
The track is without very few problems per se, but it doesn’t seem to do much more than it’s required to.
Unfortunately, not a lot in terms of special features. They are:
[*] The Theatrical Trailer which is in perfect condition. Duration: 2:22 minutes. Aside from the theatrical trailer, four other trailers appear at the opening of the film (all of which are skippable) including Before Sunset, We Don’t Live Here Anymore, Criminal and The Aviator. The first three are also WB Independents soon to be released. Total duration: 8:24 minutes.
[*] The Journey Home is really nothing more than a short promotional piece which includes comments from various cast and crew members with director Michael Mayer taking the lead. Duration: 6:09 minutes.
Special Features: 2/5
**Special Features rated for the quality of supplements, not the quantity**
While the storyline is rather simple, the emotions and feelings of those who appear are very complex. It’s complicated to watch and it’s complicated to describe, but its true meaning of friendship is visceral. The film borders on soap but it does so without becoming mundane with characters that are genuine and likeable. Having said that, I’m not sure the film has much going for it in the way of rewatchability, but it did a lot to prove the ability of Colin Farrell who turns in a wonderful performance.
The presentation of this film is excellent but the special features are rather sparse. It’s a difficult film to recommend for several reasons, but if you’re intrigued, you should at least try on a rental.
Overall Rating: 3.5/5 (not an average)
Release Date: November 2nd, 2004