The Whole Wide World, a story about R. E. Howard
– You can see the whole world from up here.
– And others as well.
The Whole Wide World, though is not a really well known production in many countries, has been very well valued by both critics and audience.
The script, written by Michael Scott Myers, is based in the biographical book by the teacher and amateur writer Novalyne Price Ellis, One who walked alone, tells about her impossible romance with the pulp author Robert Ervin Howard, probably the most important one in the life of the latter. The story begins when a common friend introduces them and ends, as it couldn’t be helped, when he who imagined Conan committed his tragic suicide at an still early age.
Related from her viewpoint, the tale is narrated in a much more optimistic and cheerful manner, some moments are even humorous, that one would expect in a story about “Two-Gun Bob”; though is clear it becomes bitter, given up as it moves forward. It’s just that, in each scene the antithesis their personalities are contrast noticeably: they both are young and vital persons, but she is happy and have faith in the future and the humanity while he is melancholic and sarcastic, even a bit rude, hateful of the human race and has no hopes in anyone or anything more than himself. Stands out, because of looking shocking, the so considerate eccentricities of a man who didn’t felt quite comfortable in the time he lived, which set people talking about almost as much as his works themselves.
At first, the main character was going to be offered to Olivia D’Abo (who, ironically, won a Razzie award for his role as princess Jehnna in Conan the destroyer). But she was ruled out as she was pregnant at the time, taking his relieve Renée Zellweger, who back then wasn’t so well known. As actress, she usually doesn’t attract my attention, but I have to admit this one is one of their best roles: she feels comfortable, very natural as Novalyne. Not in vain, she won the Independent Spirit Award and the Mar del Plata Film Festival award thanks to her superb playing.
The same can be said of Vincent D’Onofrio (probably most famous for his role in Full metal jacket), winner of the Lone Star Film & Television Award and the Golden Space Needle Award, for his act in this work. He was able to perfectly understand and transmit the sullen and unsociable, but at the same time, sensitive and passionate personality of Robert Ervin Howard.
They both give the best of them in their plays and prove to be fully convincing as a dramatic couple, because there’s a special chemistry between them, as few times have been seen in any romantic production. Supporting actors also make their task doing a good work, even if any of them stand out or outshine the main actors.
With regard to the voices, the work of both main and secondary actors are convincing too, speaking with the adequate intonation for each moment.
Even if it isn’t put in the same level that other more recent and intimist dramas, they also did a great photographic work, showing some really beautiful scenes from Texas, a few dawns, the Moon and some natural places in their whole magnificence.
Being critic, I must add it isn’t a perfect movie, even if it’s near to be. It has been reproached that H. P. Lovecraft is only mentioned in a single scene, just passing through to be never talked about him in the film, and they don’t talk about their Circle at all. The same thing can be said about Kull, Solomon Kane, Bran Mak Morn and some other “minor” characters from the author, which aren’t even mentioned, so Conan upstages all them. Nevertheless, these are minor oversights which can be forgiven considering the story is about a romance and certainly not an author biography at all, something to be take in mind by the hypercritical fans unless they want to be disappoint when watching the film. Finally, and this is true to a certain extent, some people have said the story is needlessly dragged out for quite a while, delaying the unavoidable end for maybe fifteen or twenty minutes more than required.
In short, despite its small slips, it is a splendid work with a touching ending, which tells a wonderful but bittersweet story worth of watching by both the pulp writer fans and well as by those who just asks for a tender and sensitive narration.
Technical information and more The Whole Wide World reviews in IMDB.