American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
"A Home at the End of the World" tells the story of Bobby Morrow, who at 7 sees his adored older brother walk into a glass door and die, who lost his mother even earlier, who finds his father dead in bed, who solemnly announces to his best friend, "I'm the last of my kind." Soon he is living with the friend's family, so comfortably that the mother eventually has to tell him, "You can't just live with us forever." By then he is 24.
Bobby is played as an adult by Colin Farrell in a performance that comes as an astonishment. Farrell is a star who has appeared mostly in action pictures that reflect his bad-boy offscreen image. Here he plays a quiet, complex, unconventional character, a young man who has been deeply hurt, who fears abandonment, and whose guiding principle has become, "I just want everybody to be happy."
Bobby is sweet. Everybody likes him. But does anybody know him? He has such a need to please, to reassure, to comfort, to heal, that it is hard to say what might comfort and heal him. We attend to this character more than to most, because we like him but find him a mystery.
His best friend is Jonathan (played as an adult by Dallas Roberts), an outsider in high school until Bobby befriends him, gives him pot for the first time and shares his dead brother's philosophy, which is basically that all is good, life is wonderful, so chill. Jonathan is clearly gay from an early age, and as the two boys share a bed, they eventually share a shy sexual experience. Jonathan moves to New York and Bobby eventually follows, joining a household that also includes Clare (Robin Wright Penn). She is older, experiments with bizarre hair-coloring strategies, embraces the unconventional and eventually embraces Bobby. He confesses he is a virgin and may not be "adept"; she calls him "junior" and takes charge.