Nine years before he wrote ''The Hours,'' novelist Michael Cunningham fashioned this twist on the romantic triangle about two childhood pals and an older woman. ''We always talked about it as a couple that's made up of three people,'' says Michael Mayer, a theater director (''Thoroughly Modern Millie'') making his feature-film debut. ''The perfect couple for each of them is a combination of the other two. And as much as you want it to work, it's an impossible bit of geometry.''
When Colin Farrell expressed interest in the role of the inexperienced Bobby, who finds himself caught between the affections of his gay best friend (newcomer Dallas Roberts) and his new girlfriend (Robin Wright Penn), Mayer embarked on a mini film festival. ''I watched 'Tigerland' and 'Hart's War' and said, 'He's a wildly attractive and dynamic actor, but there's nothing in either of these films to suggest that he has what it takes to play Bobby.''' So Mayer flew to L.A. for a personal read-through. ''It was just the two of us sitting on the sofa in the lobby of the Chateau Marmont. And he completely sold me.''
The actor's vulnerable performance includes one postcoital scene where he goes full-Farrell. ''Colin agreed immediately when we were shooting it,'' Mayer recalls. ''He said, 'We've got to see that Bobby is a sexual being now.' It's gonna stay [in the final cut]. We've got our R rating.''
THE GOOD NEWS ''Home'' could do for Farrell what ''The Hours'' did for Nicole Kidman.
THE BAD NEWS What's a small sexual drama doing in a summer like this?