Big Bad Love

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Big Bad Love
Directed byArliss Howard
Written byArliss Howard
Jim Howard
Larry Brown (book)
Produced byArliss Howard
StarringArliss Howard
Debra Winger
Paul Le Mat
Rosanna Arquette
Angie Dickinson
Michael Parks
CinematographyPaul Ryan
Edited byJay Rabinowitz
Distributed byIFC Films
Release dates
Cannes Film Festival:
May 12, 2001
United States:
February 22, 2002
Running time
111 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$104,294

Big Bad Love is a 2001 film directed by Arliss Howard, who co-wrote the script with his brother, James Howard, based on a collection of short stories of the same name by Larry Brown.[1][2] The story recounts an episode in the life of an alcoholic Vietnam veteran and struggling writer named Leon Barlow, who is played by Arliss Howard, and his wife, played by Howard's wife Debra Winger. The soundtrack includes music by Tom Verlaine, the Kronos Quartet, and R. L. Burnside.[1][2]


Big Bad Love shares its title and characters with those in Mississippi writer Larry Brown's short story collection, particularly those in the book's final story, "92 Days".[3]

The main character is an unsuccessful alcoholic writer, motivated by desire for his estranged wife (played by Debra Winger) and the urging of his Vietnam War buddy Monroe (played by Paul Le Mat) to continue to write. He is angry, yet hopeful that he will sell a story. When tragedy strikes a close friend and his daughter, Leon is forced to rethink his way of life.


The New York Times reviewer A. O. Scott wrote, "For every moment of breathtaking strangeness -- as when Leon, after a road accident, awakens in a field of kudzu strewn with manuscript pages -- there is an overly stylized scene in which literary self-consciousness suffocates lived reality", "(the film) is a self-indulgent celebration of self-indulgence".[1] Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly wrote, "Howard's Big Bad Love bewilders -- a whole lot of opulent Southern atmosphere about some stunted, opaque characters".[2] Ken Fox of TV Guide writes "The film's few saving graces include Dickinson's sardonic southern belle; Winger's welcome return to the screen after a five-year absence; and Howard's voice-over readings of Brown's powerful prose, which ultimately saves the film from itself.",[4] while Rachel Gordon of Filmcritic wrote, "For his feature debut as director, Howard impressively mixes fantasy sequences with the depressing reality of pushing creativity as hard as you can against a tide of guilt",[5] and Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "Big Bad Love is brave and admirable for the trust that it puts in a viewer's intuition and willingness in going along with it right through to its rewarding finish."[6]


Production notes[edit]

It was filmed on location in parts of Mississippi.[citation needed]


Big Bad Love had international release at film festivals before and after its 2002 theatrical release, including the 2001 Cannes Film Festival,[7] the 2001 Toronto International Film Festival,[8] the 2001 Austin Film Festival,[9] and the 2002 Wisconsin Film Festival.[10]


  1. ^ a b c FILM REVIEW; A Writer Holds It All In, At Least From His Family The New York Times, By A. O. Scott (February 22, 2002), "", accessed 01-29-2009
  2. ^ a b c [1] Archived 2009-01-09 at the Wayback Machine Entertainment Weekly, By Lisa Schwarzbaum (), "Review Big Bad Love (2002)", accessed 01-29-2009
  3. ^ "92 Days" from Big Bad Love, Vintage Books, New York, 1991. pp. 139–228. The story is dedicated to "buk".
  4. ^ [2] TV Guide, by Ken Fox, review of Big Bad Love, accessed 01-29-2009
  5. ^ [3] Archived 2007-11-01 at the Wayback Machine Filmcritic, by Rachel Gordon, review of Big Bad Love, accessed 01-29-2009
  6. ^ [4] Los Angeles Times, By Kevin Thomas (May 8, 2002), review of Big Bad Love, accessed 01-29-2009
  7. ^ IFC Films Archived 2007-11-09 at the Wayback Machine, Official selection, accessed 01-29-2009
  8. ^, "Donovan's Toronto Film Fest 2001 Report", accessed 01-29-2009
  9. ^, "Films Screening during AFF 2001:", accessed 01-29-2009
  10. ^ Wisconsin Film Festival Titles, accessed 01-29-2009

External links[edit]