The Whole Wide World (1996)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

A touching and unusual love story, The Whole Wide World was based on a memoir by Novalyne Price Ellis, in which she recalled her brief romance with Robert E. Howard, creator of Conan the Barbarian and one of the finest and most prolific pulp writers of his day. In 1933, Novalyne Price (Renee Zellweger) is a pretty but shy Texas schoolteacher who would like to be a writer some day. A friend offers to introduce her to Howard (Vincent D'Onofrio), who writes broad, bold yarns about superhuman heroes and damsels in distress and has little patience for writers of more pretentious fiction. Novalyne likes Howard and he seems to like her, but she finds him a hard man to deal with. He lives in the world of his stories, and he devotes as much time as possible to his bedridden mother, which leaves him little time to pursue a romance. But when Howard discovers that another man has been courting Novalyne, he's heartbroken -- even if they didn't have a conventional romance, he felt there was a special emotional bond between them, and he hates to see it thrown away. Renee Zellweger and Vincent D'Onofrio both deliver fine performances and are a believable (if unconventional) romantic couple; D'Onofrio also co-produced.
PG (adult situations)
Drama , Special Interest , Romance
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Sony Entertainment


Vincent D'Onofrio
as Robert E. Howard
Renée Zellweger
as Novalyne Price
Ann Wedgeworth
as Mrs. Howard
Harve Presnell
as Dr. Howard
Benjamin Mouton
as Clyde Smith
Chris Shearer
as Truett
Michael Corbett
as Booth Adams
Marion Eaton
as Woman on Bus
Dell Aldrich
as Mrs. Hemphill
Libby Villari
as Etna Reed Price
Elizabeth D'Onofrio
as Mrs. Smith
Stephen Marshall
as Director
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for The Whole Wide World

All Critics (16) | Top Critics (5)

Invest some patience and you'll be richly rewarded with rolling frontier vistas, butterscotch sunsets and a sweet, melancholy romance that will sneak up on you and grab your heart.

December 31, 1999
USA Today
Top Critic

It adroitly conveys author Robert E. Howard's slow disconnect from the world, and the effect that had on those around him.

January 24, 2003
Flipside Movie Emporium

"well-acted and moving"

July 29, 2002
Kalamazoo Gazette

Robert E. Howard himself may have been a more interesting character than any of his fantastic creations

Full Review… | December 31, 1999

Quote not available.

Full Review… | September 7, 2011
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

Quote not available.

July 4, 2005

Audience Reviews for The Whole Wide World

Nicely done bio-drama based on the book written by Novalyn Price Ellis. It's about time we witnessed a woman making a decision about a man via her head, not her heart. She loved him, but he was just too damaged. From what I have read about this writer, he was quite a talented, yet strange man. This is an enjoyable glimpse into the life of an amazing and complex man and the woman who, aside from his own mother, probably knew him best.

Cynthia S.
Cynthia S.

Super Reviewer

Not a bad picture. This is back in the days when Renee Zellweger was tolerable. Period pictures don't stay with me for the most part however and that is my sentiment about this one. I stopped thinking about it once it was done.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

This movie is based on the book One Who Walked Alone by Novalyne Price Ellis. The story recounts her friendship and romance with Robert E. Howard, creator of Conan the Barbarian and Red Sonya. The film, directed by Dan Ireland, stars Renee Zellweger and Vincent D'Onofrio with incredible cinematography by Claudio Rocha. Both Zellweger and D'Onofrio turn in amazing performances. I personally think this is one of the most romantic and heartbreaking stories I've ever seen. This movie can always make me cry buckets. Best quote: To make life worth living a man or woman has to have a great love or a great cause... I have neither.

Darren Pierrot
Darren Pierrot

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