There’s a few things going through this that keep it all together. It may seem clumsy, and some parts are glossed over for the sake of economy, but it is conscious of its own faults.
All of these characters repress something of themselves in order to keep going. The film does the same. It selects its intimacy carefully. I am sure there is a 5 hour director’s cut somewhere. Maybe it is inside that house, at the end of the road.
If you decide to see this, you should prepare yourself to see a life unwind where the roots are always movable. Urges are attached to people and theses people are in shifting motion constantly. It is not about being gay or bisexual or straight. It’s about a certain comfort in the company of souls. A certain sharing and trust. It is rather writerly in that way, it is driven by loss.
Loss as a drive to build.
Along the way we have drugs as a means for clarity of vision. We have inward vision as a means to look outside. Everybody is infected, even our main observer (Sissy Spacek).
There’s a simple metaphor for all of it. A brother dies by running into a clear glass window which he failed to notice. Isn’t that how we hurt ourselves, all the time?
These films always have an emotional center that a facial expression needs to convey. Robin Wright Penn knows how to do this. It is near the end, before she leaves the house for good. If you get the DVD, play it over again. It’s all there.