Where The Heart Is

Where The Heart Is


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

In the time-honoured tradition of a corn-fed nation, goodness finds its way. Novalee has never lived in a home without wheels and now she's travelling through Oklahoma, nine months pregnant, with her boyfriend, Billy Jack (Dylan Bruno), in a trashed pick-up with a hole in the floor.

Somewhere in Dream Valley, California, they will discover what they are looking for, a singing career for Billy Jack and a neat home in the 'burbs for Novalee and her baby. It doesn't happen like that, because Billy Jack drives off when Novalee is in the washroom at a Wal-Mart outside a small town in the middle of farming country, leaving her with $10, a Polaroid camera and a big scary feeling.

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Being a woman's picture, the guys are either rats or weeds and the gals full of lovin' kindness. Novalee stays at the Wal-Mart without anyone knowing and has her baby there and becomes famous for a week. She is helped by a nurse (Ashley Judd) at the hospital, an ex-alcoholic (Stockard Channing) and the librarian's brother (James Frain), who comes from a posh family on the Eastern Seaboard.

Novalee is a little Southern girl, with no family worth talking about, who is so kind and good she brings out the best in people and asks nothing in return. As a result, everyone wants to help her and "the Wal-Mart baby", who is named Americus.

The oozy sentiment pollutes the integrity of Natalie Portman's performance. She has matured from her sensational debut in Leon, through the responsibility of playing a queen in the latest Star Wars extravaganzas to a position where she could inherit the mantle from Jodie Foster.

"We've all got meaness," Novalee says. "But we've got goodness too."

Aphorisms fall like tears of joy. Portman smiles. Goodness shines forth. All's well in this world.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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Where The Heart Is packshot
A teenage mother-to-be is abandoned in rural Oklahoma to make a life for herself and the baby.
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Director: Matt Williams

Writer: Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel

Starring: Natalie Portman, Ashley Judd, Stockard Channing, Joan Cusack, James Frain, Dylan Bruno, Keith David

Year: 2000

Runtime: 107 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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