Novalee Nation is a pregnant 17-year-old from Tennessee heading to California with her boyfriend Willie Jack, but is abandoned by him at a Wal-Mart store in Sequoyah, Oklahoma. Novalee has no job, no skills and only $5.55 in her pocket, so she secretly lives in the Wal-Mart until her daughter Americus is born six weeks later. Novalee decides to raise her daughter and rebuild her life in Sequoyah, with the help of eccentric but kind strangers. Based on the best-selling novel by Billie Letts. Written by
A young pregnant girl (Natalie Portman) gets left in a small Oklahoma town by her loser boyfriend (Dylan Bruno) on their way to California from Tennessee. Portman is literally stranded at the local Wal-Mart and then becomes a national celebrity when she gives birth late one night at the store. Local gardener Stockard Channing and her live-in lover (Richard Jones) take the youngster and her child in as Portman gets the opportunity to work for Wal-Mart. Immediately we are introduced to a whole host of vivid characters. There is nurse Ashley Judd who is rearing five young children of her own, department store photographer Keith David and shy librarian James Frain who is taking care of his alcoholic older sister (Margaret Ann Hoard). And we even get a short glimpse of Portman's trashy, money-hungry mother (an electrically-charged cameo for Sally Field). Time passes, and Portman experiences life, love, triumph, tragedy and everything in between as she makes the small Oklahoma town her own. Smart drama that never loses its way and stays interesting due to Portman's show-stopping performance. The rest of the cast is right on key as well as fellow "Heat" alum Judd does a deceptively deep and heartfelt job. The movie works due to a steady pace, strong direction and a totally under-appreciated script. 4 stars out of 5.
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