Projections - Movie Reviews

Where the Heart Is Where the Heart Is

Novalee Nation (Natalie Portman) is an unwed pregnant teenager whose boyfriend drops her off at a Wal-Mart and takes off.  She has no money or place to live (her mother, played by Sally Field in a cameo, left when she was a child), so she takes up residence inside the store and delivers her baby there.

Based on the best selling novel by Billie Lets, the setting is a small town in Oklahoma.  Novalee's neighbors are a colorful lot with each one having a stranger name than the next.  Ashley Judd plays Lexie, a nurse whose children are named after candy bars; Stockard Channing is Sister Husband, a kind woman who takes in Novalee along with her baby, Americus; and Moses Whitecotton (Keith David) helps Novalee develop her talent as a photographer.

There's a number of unrelated stories going on here.  People come into Novalee's life without an explanation of how they met or anything about their background.  For example, Sister Husband, who lives with Mr. Sprock, casually mentions that the both of them are alcoholics, but we never find out anything else about them, or for that matter, why she took in a total stranger with a baby.

There's a story line that follows Novalee's no good boyfriend on his quest to become a country singer, a mother who breezes in for about five minutes, a tornado that rips through town, Lexie who has five kids with five different fathers, a librarian (James Frain) who Novalee falls for and his sick sister who lives over the library.

Natalie Portman who shines with innocent goodness and Ashley Judd who's character always finds the wrong man, are good enough to make this otherwise lackluster down home film, a worthwhile one.

Where the Heart Is

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