The Whole Wide World

1996, Movie, PG, 105 mins


How odd that Dan Ireland, producer to such edgy filmmakers as Ken Russell and Bernard Rose, should have chosen such polite material for his directing debut. Based on the memoirs of Novalyne Price, Ireland's gentle film dramatizes Price's long-standing relationship with pulp writer Robert E. Howard, whom H.P. Lovecraft dubbed "the greatest pulp fiction writer in the whole wide world." Howard (Vincent D'Onofrio), creator of such blood-and-guts heroes as Conan the Barbarian, Kull the Conqueror and Red Sonja, conjured entire worlds of epic savagery without ever leaving his parents' home in Cross Plains, TX. He may also have been quite psychotic, a deeply disturbed young man whose morbid attachment to his ailing mother prevented him from living any kind of real life. Ireland occasionally hints at the relationship between Howard's madness and his bizarre brand of fiction. But like Price's fond portrait of the writer, the film never allows things to get too unpleasant or weird. What we're left with is a well-acted love story -- Renee Zellweger is particularly good as Price -- and the sense that there's more to this story than anyone's 'fessing up to. leave a comment

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