books to film can be a tricky business, fans of the book can
be dissappointed that it doesn't match their imagination.
Special care was taken behind the scenes of Where the heart
is to ensure that nobody felt this way about their film. With
executives of Twentieth Century Fox being involved in the
adaptation of the novel by Billie Letts, all the stops were
The story centres around Novalee (Natalie Portman), a 17 year
old girl who visibly pregnant, sets off with redneck boyfriend
Willy-Jack to start a new life in Las Vegas. Being pregnant,
Novalee asks to stop to visit the bathroom of a Wal-Mart supermarket
shortly after starting the journey. When she returns to the
car park she finds only her camera in the place where Willy-Jack
and car should be. Stranded in Olklahoma with no money or
place to stay, Novalee decides to secretly reside in the Wal-Mart
as it provides all she needs on its shelves, from sleeping
bags to books on pregnancy. When the delivery date of her
baby arrives her lifestyle has to change, initially by force
as her child has been dubbed the "Wal-Mart baby"
on the national news. As many skeletons emerge from the woodwork,
Novalee settles in a new home with some eccentric but lovable
people and begins to bloom from girl to lady.
Portman is excellent as the initially naive and defenceless
heroine, who blossoms into a strong and caring adult later
in the film. The film is certainly more quirky than the "bog
standard" Hollywood movie, with probably western America
identifying the most with the characters. Nevertheless this
doesn't detract from the films appeal too greatly. The story
is more of a fly-on-the-wall view of vulnerable girl's discovery
of the world rather than a journey. The characters are all
very believable with many you will know in your own life.
audience will find themselves well and truly attached to Novalee
and her plight. As pain and joy cross her path the viewer
will empathise with all they see, thanks greatly to Natalie
Portman and Ashley Judd, two actresses of high pedigree.
In summary the film is a definate rite of passage movie that
will apeal to those wanting a change from Hollywood's usual
explosions and car chases. A well presented chapter of life
and how to make the best of what you have. Rating .