Reviewed by: Debbie James
|Featuring:||Natalie Portman, Stockard Channing, Simon Bennett, Joan Cusack, Ashley Judd|
|Producer:||Matt Williams, David McFadzean, Susan Cartsonis|
|Distributor:||Twentieth Century Fox|
Natalie Portman shines brilliantly in “Where the Heart Is”. She plays the part of pregnant 17-year-old Novalee Nation, traveling with her boyfriend, Willy Jack Pickens (Dylan Bruno). They are en route to California where he’s hoping to pursue a music career. When she asks to stop at a Wal-Mart store in Sequoyah, Oklahoma, to use the restroom, he abandons her there to fend for herself. Having only a few dollars and knowing no one in town, she ends up living in the Wal-Mart.
Eventually, she makes friends with several women, who become her “family.” Sister Husband (Stockard Channing) takes the place of her mother (who abandoned her) and gives her a place to stay once her baby is born and her plight is broadcast on television; and Lexie Coop (Ashley Judd), also a young unwed mother, becomes her best friend. She also meets a young man, Forney Hull (James Frain), who befriends her and becomes a father-figure for her little girl.
Together they all help her to pull her life together; and that is what makes the story so endearing. The developing relationships feel very realistic, and watching Portman’s character grow into a young woman is a joy to watch.
One couple has brief sexual encounter (nothing explicit—several glimpses of kissing, a bare back, etc., and a couple under the sheets together); and another couple briefly makes out. One character is a religious woman who fornicates with her boyfriend, but otherwise is a good example for Novalee. (This is never shown, but she does pray for forgiveness for this several times.) There are about 30 uses of common swear words, about 20 improper uses of the Lord’s name, and several instances of off-color words, mild sexual discussions, and innuendoes. The violence is brief and minimal, with the exception of a woman who is bloody from being beaten by a man who she caught molesting her children. (The actual beating/molesting is not seen, but is described.) In addition, several characters occasionally drink or smoke.