Synopsis by Mark Deming
Actor Arliss Howard made his debut as a director with this emotional drama adapted from a handful of short stories by Larry Brown. Barlow (Arliss Howard) is a deeply troubled Vietnam veteran who has been chasing a career as a writer, with little success; when he isn't struggling with his typewriter, he's usually drinking, and his wild mood swings and alcoholic fits of rage have driven away his wife Marilyn (Debra Winger), who has taken their son Alan (Zach Moody) and daughter Alisha (Olivia Kersey) with her. Barlow would like to see his children, but Marilyn refuses to allow it until he catches up on his alimony and child support payments; one of Barlow's few loyal friends, Monroe (Paul LeMat), a buddy from his Army days, is able to get him work as a house painter. With steady paychecks, Barlow is finally able to clear his debts to Marilyn, but she refuses to acknowledge that he's made much progress in turning his life around, and he doesn't get much more emotional support from his ailing mother (Angie Dickinson) or his friend Velma (Rosanna Arquette). Big Bad Love marked the second screen pairing for husband-and-wife Arliss Howard and Debra Winger; it was also Winger's first screen appearance in six years. Acclaimed songwriter Tom Waits composed the film's original score.
writer, alcoholism, alimony, child-support, divorce, veteran [military], house-painting, Vietnam