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Where the Heart Is (2000)

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A pregnant 17-year-old rebuilds her life after being abandoned by her boyfriend at a Wal-Mart in Sequoyah, Oklahoma.



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
3,701 ( 681)
1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sue McCormick ...
Cake Supplier
Karey Green ...
Mary Ashleigh Green ...
Girl in Bathroom
Laura Auldridge ...
Alicia Godwin ...


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 Stephen Hughes

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Laughter is harder... Friendship is stronger... Trust is deeper... When it comes from the heart. See more »


Comedy | Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for intense thematic material, language and sexual content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

28 April 2000 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Voz do Coração  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$8,292,939 (USA) (28 April 2000)


$33,771,174 (USA) (1 September 2000)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The girl who played hitch hiker Jolene who was fourteen in the movie, was actually only eleven years old when the movie was filmed. See more »


When Novalee and Lexie are outside folding laundry, and the exterminator guy drives by, Lexie does the final two folds of the sheet twice. See more »


Thelma 'Sister' Husband: On behalf of the merchants and businessman's association of the city of Sequoia, Oklahoma I do present you with this basket of gifts and merchandise.
Novalee Nation: [takes basket] Thank you.
Thelma 'Sister' Husband: You've got discount coupons, matches, a map of the city, emery boards.
[interrupts herself]
Thelma 'Sister' Husband: Oh, oh yeah. Now you see this little appointment book? Well I ran out of these last week so I had to put two or three of my own appointments in this one. But if you're not an alcoholic you'll know those meetings aren't for you.
Novalee Nation: No ...
See more »


References Anywhere But Here (1999) See more »


So Young
Written by Jim Corr (as James Corr), Andrea Corr, Sharon Corr and Caroline Corr
Performed by The Corrs
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

An enchanting human interest story
5 October 2000 | by (Atlanta, GA) – See all my reviews

This film is a bittersweet human-interest story with a side order of romance. The story has a country flavor, plenty of country music and a story that could serve as the film version of the typical lyrics of any country music CD. It is replete with bad decisions, bad luck and tragedies at every turn. It is sappy, corny, stereotypical, and unfortunately full of the types of things that really happen in rural America. Despite this seething despondency, it has an upbeat fatalism that suggests that at least for some of the people, the struggle against bad breaks and hard times pays off.

The story follows the life of Novalee Nation (Natalie Portman), poor young girl setting out to start a new life with her no account boyfriend. When Novalee makes a rest stop at a Wal-Mart in Oklahoma, he ditches her, literally leaving her there barefoot and pregnant. Having only five dollars to her name, she takes up residence in the Wal-Mart and ultimately has the baby there. She becomes a minor celebrity and she is adopted by the Welcome Wagon lady. The remainder of the film examines the various relationships and experiences she has in this small town over the next seven or eight years.

The story is charming and steeped in sentiment. The character development of Novalee is excellent, although Director Matt Williams could have spent more time on some of the supporting characters, especially Sister Husband (Stockard Channing). To his credit, the film was nicely shot, and the tornado scene was fabulous.

Natalie Portman's performance was her best to date. She played the part with a near helpless determination that made her a very attractive and lovable character. Her southern accent was terrible, but her portrayal of the rural southern attitude was on target. Though the part didn't have a lot of range, she was extremely effective with the emotional element, and elicited great sympathy and admiration for her response to her desperate situation.

Stockard Channing was wonderful as the eccentric Welcome Wagon lady. I would have liked to see this part expanded, just to see more of Channing. She was enchantingly warm and peculiar. James Frain was also very good as Forney. He made the character very interesting and affable. He continues to be a solid supporting actor who has shown himself to be extremely versatile (Hilary and Jackie, Reindeer Games, Titus). Ashley Judd added another fine performance to her resume, with a free spirited portrayal of Lexie.

This was a nice story with an agreeable and upbeat ending. I rated it a 7/10. Add a point if you are a woman or if you have ever lived in a mobile home. It will find its most enthusiastic audience with women due to its extreme sentimentality, but it is not so `female' that it can't be enjoyed by men, making it a good date movie.

21 of 27 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Nowadays the media wouldn't be kind to a pregnant girl living at Walmart JeopardyLeyton
I love this movie so much, I named my daughter Americus ushi_gushi_head
Did you just fall in love with James Frain by the end of the movie?? iluvmygrls
Something Disturbing exclamatory87
Favorite lines? moonbabyjdk12
Sister Husband name RockDesk
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