Independent cinema has fallen hard and it can’t get up. For those fed up with the fake romantic posturing of Hollywood films like Spider-Man 2 and A Cinderella Story, there used to be a viable alternative. But it’s been well reported that Indiewood is now a place for would-be hacks to practice their craft on smaller budgets. A Home at the End of the World, from first-time feature director Michael Mayer, is basically a melodramatic threesome between a stoned-out, holier-than-thou fool (Colin Farrell, sporting the same dim-witted expression in every scene), an art queen (Robin Wright Penn), and a nerdy homosexual grappling with emotional stress (Dallas Roberts). There’s even a pot-smoking mother to boot (poor Sissy Spacek). Yes, it feels like every indie movie you’ve ever seen before, combining Threesome with a watered-down version of the Billy Crudup character in Jesus’ Son. There’s a little of that suburban ’70s ennui from The Ice Storm in early scenes where Farrell and Roberts’s characters are played by child actors, coming of age in a drug-fueled, swinging adult world. They discover their gayness (take your pick of any lousy film from the ’90s New Queer Cinema) and then discover New York City (take your pick of any horrible Bret Easton Ellis/Jay McInerney/Tama Janowitz novel) and then discover a voluptuous woman who wants to have a baby! Then they all form into a family, try to make it work, and the inevitable one-dimensional melodrama ensues. The fact that Home has absolutely nothing original to say on any of these matters and is photographed in such a generic “indie” way suggests that young filmmakers have probably seen too many other movies. And it all reminds me of what the great screen icon Betty Boop once said: “Real life is so much more interesting than the movies!” American independent cinema is going to continue grinding its gears until filmmakers start trying to tell original stories again, not recycle the same old stuff that didn’t even feel fresh back in 1991.
While there’s very little to disguise the fact that A Home at the End of the World was pitifully shot, this Warner Home Video disc does add some life to the film. The print overall is clean with little in the way of edge enhancement, and while the film’s color scheme is on the anemic side, the hair on Robin Wright Penn’s head is constant source of wonder. The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track is nothing special-dialogue is clear and the soundtrack is particularly active, but the film’s surround work is not exactly multidimensional.
In the extras department there’s a theatrical trailer and the behind-the-scenes featurette The Journey Home, which allows the cast and crew to more or less say a variation of "home is where the heart is" for six minutes. Also included here are previews for Before Sunset, We Don’t Live Here Anymore, Criminal, and The Aviator.
Sorry, pervs, but Colin Farrell’s penis has stayed on the cutting room floor.