The Whole Wide World:”No one can write about this country, like I can.”

Year: 1996
Directed by Dan Ireland
Produced by Carl Colpaert, Dan Ireland, Vincent D’Onofrio and Kevin Reidy
Written by Novalyne Price Ellis and Michael Scott Myers
Cast: Vincent D’Onofrio,Renée Zellweger,Ann Wedgeworth,Harve Presnell,Benjamin Mouton, Helen Cates and Leslie Buesing

Set during the Great Depression, it tells the love story of the well-known pulp fiction writer Robert E. Howard and Novalyne Price, a small time teacher still trying to find her place in the world. The ups and downs of their love story change each other forever.

Robert E. Howard is a man known for creating worlds beyond our own with limitless creatures. Worlds where unbridled heroism and bravado existed and carried the day. Ironically, The World Wide World recreates his love story that stands in stark contrast to the stories and conventions Howard created. It is a down to earth love story of a small-time teacher and a boisterous storyteller. However, just like Howard’s stories, there is a brimming humanity at the center of it all.

Howard is a man of words and, he lives to produce words to tell his great stories. Howard lives inside of his head to the extent that he cares little for people’s opinion of him. There are a few things that that tie him down to this world. Those are the love of his mother and his romantic feelings for Novalyne. The childlike ”narcissism” of Howard doesn’t come at the cost of his humanity and humility. While Howard is on slow on the uptake of social conventions, Howard’s insightfulness knows no bounds.

Compared to high spirited Howard, Novalyne Price Ellis is rather a sort of moralistic. However, she isn’t moralistic in a way that makes her closed minded, but rather a person still coming into her own and searching for a way to be a valuable member of society. ,Novalyne rejects Howard’s high minded individualism, nonetheless, she acquires a life lesson for accepting some of Howard’s high flying tenets to spark a change in her.

The Whole Wide World wrestles with some high ideals but the narrative remains subdued. The small town setting works in favor of this down to earth and modest tone. While The Whole Wide World falls into the trappings of the whole ”Boy Meets Girl” tropes, it manages to stay strong due to solid performances and tight storytelling. The romance is idealistic but kept within realistic boundaries that makes its tender moments all the more rewarding. Howard and Novalyne are in a way complete opposites which is best reflected in the type of stories each wants to tell. Their romance in a certain sense is a clash of worldviews. This clash puts both Howard and Novalyne at their highest and lowest points. The magic and effectiveness of this romance is that is grounded in a powerful character study.
The Whole Wide World is a tender portrait of an offbeat relationship with the utmost sincerity and sensibility.

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