Film Reviews


By • Jul 23rd, 2004 •

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Hart-Sharp Entertainment / Warner Independent Pictures / 97 minutes / R Rated

QUOTE: Why does our culture loathe the penis?

Someone said a few years ago that the only way to break the taboo against full frontal male nudity was if a major movie star did it. Well, imagine if a terrifically sexy movie star – with the proper womanizing credentials and recognizing the honesty of the part he was playing – got up from bed nude and allowed himself to be filmed?

Apparently, A HOME had a scene where Colin Farrell’s character, having just made love to a woman, gets up from bed and walks into his best friend’s bedroom. He does not drag the sheet off the bed and drape it around his body. He does what every man does: he gets up without any clothes on. Someone ruled this scene “too distracting” for audiences.

From now on, I will rate nude scenes in movies according to the “Rules of Too Distracting.”

Yes, the Young Obi-Wan Ewan MacGregor has done it several times (“Pillow Book” and “Young Adam”) and so has Michael Pitt (“The Dreamers”), Kevin Bacon (“Wild Things”), Harvey Keitel (“Bad Lieutenant”), and Richard Gere (“American Gigolo”). Yet, the taboo stays firmly in place in 2004.

Why are we horrified by the sight of a penis? Apparently, no one likes the look of it (except the aforementioned gentlemen). It was certainly different in archaic cultures. I collect phallic symbols from all over the world. While guests to my house are rather shocked, I tell them these were mankind’s first fertility symbols and objects of religious worship.

Now, the sight of the penis is loathed. What happened?

A HOME begins in 1967 Cleveland. Bobby (Andrew Chalmers) is 9 years old and adores his older brother Carlton (Ryan Donowho). After the strange accidental death of Carlton, Bobby (Erik Smith) is then orphaned at 16 and goes to live with his best friend Jonathan (Harris Allan). Bobby immediately forms an intense relationship with Jonathan’s parents, Alice (Sissy Spacek) and Ned Glover (Matt Frewer). Bobby is so desperate for love he attaches no judgment to teenage sex with Jonathan. He is just happy to be cared about.

After being apart for many years, a now 24 year old Bobby (Colin Farrell) comes to New York to stay with Jonathan (Dallas Roberts), who is openly gay and living in the East Village with free-spirit Clare (Robin Penn Wright). She is in love with Jonathan yet accepts his frequent, casual one-night stands. Jonathan is still be in love with Bobby and starts to resent it when Clare initiates a sexual relationship with him.

Colin Farrell is devastatingly charming and brings a sincerity to Bobby that is genuine and honest. He allows us to understand Bobby’s emotional needs. Everyone in the film cannot hide how emotionally sensitive Farrell is. You can actually see the actors relating to his poignant frailty. Farrell has an intense honesty that comes through. Taking this role was a fearless step and he doesn‘t walk through any scene.

This is such fine acting from Farrell that it should be used in acting classes. I know it is corny to use these terms, but you can see him being “present” in every scene and “giving” to his fellow actors. His performance is intensely moving. The role of the flamboyant Clare is carefully modulated by Wright Penn, who gives her a sad desperation and longing. Roberts gives a fine, complicated performance as a man in love with someone he is also jealous of.

A rough cut of A HOME was shown at the 2004 CineVegas Film Festival. I had a ticket but decided to honor the request that no press be allowed admission at the screening. I usually say “No” to silly dictums like this and regret not seeing the film as Colin Farrell and director Michael Mayer initially wanted us to see it. I would not have gone screaming from the theater seeing Farrell’s penis on screen. Unless it is a film about Auschwitz-Brieg we are not permitted to see male nudity. Why is female nudity so common,FIR yet the male body is vulgar and ugly?

Bobby Morrow: Colin Farrell
Clare: Robin Wright Penn
Jonathan: Dallas Roberts
Alice Glover: Sissy Spacek
Bobby (1974): Erik Smith
Jonathan (1974): Harris Allan
Carlton: Ryan Donowho
Bobby (1967): Andrew Chalmers
Ned Glover: Matt Frewer

Director: Michael Mayer
Screenwriter: Michael Cunningham
Producers: Tom Hulce, Katie Roumel, Pamela Koffler, Christine Vachon, John N. Hart Jr., Jeffrey Sharp, John Wells
Executive producers: John Sloss, Michael Hogan
Director of photography: Enrique Chediak
Production designer: Michael Shaw
Music: Duncan Sheik
Co-producers: Jocelyn Hayes, Bradford Simpson, Robert Kessel, Julia Rask
Costume designer: Beth Pasternak
Editors: Lee Percy, Andrew Marcus

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