Like my book reviews site, these are movie reviews I write for entertainment purposes only. These are just my reviews and my opinions. They are not endorsed by Blogger or any movie studios or anyone else. So there. I borrowed my scoring system from the Metacritic site, which does not imply an endorsement from them, although I think they do have a very nice website. I convert the 1-100 scores into 1-4 stars, essentially it works like this:

1 star = 25 points
2 stars = 50 points
3 stars = 75 points
4 stars = 100 points

And then if something falls about halfway between, then I'll give it an added half-star.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Home at the End of the World

I think my initial problem here is that I read the book a couple of years ago, so I don't remember it extremely well.  I really need to go to the library and especially check out the ending.  That ending really kills what's otherwise a good film.

"A Home at the End of the World" tells the story of two friends and the bizarre love triangle that develops between them.  It starts out in 1967 when nine-year-old Bobby walks in on his older brother having sex.  The older brother not long after introduces Bobby to LSD and not long after that dies by accidentally running through a sliding glass door.  Picking up seven or eight years later, Bobby's mother is dead as well and he is caring for his father as best he can.  Then he meets a shy kid named Jonathan and the two become instant friends.

Unwittingly Bobby corrupts poor Jonathan by introducing him to marijuana.  He also unwittingly corrupt's Jonathan's mother (Sissy Spacek) the same way.  Given his background, Bobby doesn't really see anything wrong with smoking a joint with his friend or friend's mom.  When his father dies, Bobby comes to live with Jonathan's family.  In repayment for introducing her to pot, Jon's mom introduces Bobby to baking, which he soon becomes an expert at.

Jonathan leaves to go to college, but Bobby stays in Cleveland until Jonathan's parents decide to move to Arizona for the desert air that should in theory be better for Jonathan's father's respiratory problems.  This leaves Bobby homeless, so naturally he calls up Jonathan in New York and asks to stay with him.

In the big city, Bobby goes to Jonathan's East Village apartment that he shares with an older woman named Clare, who dresses and dyes her hair funny colors as if she's younger.  It soon becomes evident that Jonathan is gay, but despite this Clare wants to have his baby.  Things get weirder with Bobby in the picture.  Thus is formed the bizarre love triangle with Bobby and Jonathan both having affection for Clare--and each other.

The reason for the title stems from when Clare does get pregnant and the trio move upstate to Woodstock.  Bobby opens a restaurant where Jonathan works as a waiter while Clare cares for the child.  It's a very odd situation.

Where it all falls down is in the ending.  [SPOILER ALERT!!!]





OK, you've been warned so if you read anything past this, don't complain I gave away the ending!  In his novel, Michael Cunningham mentions AIDS simply as "the disease" which made sense since the book was written in the early '90s when that was still taboo.  The problem is that in the movie Cunningham (who wrote the screenplay) is even more timid, mentioning it only in lesions on Jonathan's body.  This seems weird to me because the movie came out in 2004, after "Philadelphia" and numerous other shows, movies, benefit concerts on AIDS so it's not nearly so taboo anymore.  There seemed no reason to handle the topic so timidly.  Of course my theory is this was mandated by some studio exec worried about putting off mainstream audiences or something.  No matter what though, it just makes it seem like Cunningham compromised his artistic principles.

And then the movie simply ends.  Clare goes to visit her mother--and may not be back--Jonathan is probably dying of AIDS and it just ENDS!  WTF?  How can you leave the movie like that?  That's what I mean by I need to go to the library and see if the book ends that way too.

So that part was really annoying and just kind of spoiled the whole thing for me.





Anyway, it's still not a bad movie.  Actually it reminds me of my book, especially the Bobby character, who remains innocent despite everything that happens around him.  From what I can remember the book is better and you're probably better off reading that than watching this movie, though at 90 minutes the movie would take less time.

That is all.

My score:  62/100 (2.5 stars)

Metacritic score:  59/100 (2 stars)

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