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Where the Heart Is

Director:Matt Williams
Writers:Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel
20th Century Fox; PG-13; 115 minutes
Release:4/00
Cast:Natalie Portman, Ashley Judd, Stockard Channing

In Where the Heart Is, Natalie Portman stars as Novalee Nation, an unwed Midwestern mom whose no-good boyfriend abandons her at a Wal-Mart in Oklahoma. The distraught mom does what any blue-collar Hollywood troubadour would do: she begins living in the Wal-Mart itself. Sweet young Novalee finds life and love in the tiny town, assisted by a cast of quirky residents like Sister Husband (Stockard Channing), Forney Hull (James Frain), and Moses Whitecotten (Keith David). The naming whimsy is indicative of the film's general attitude, which champions warm platitudes and facile vivid drama over true grit.

Tornadoes and tragedies arrive, but they certainly don't stay. In the end there stands an innocent American girl—her pockets heavy with fully-realized hopes—and the monstrous megastore where she first found home.


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