Ossus Library Index Drama Movie Index


Directed by Matt Williams (2000, 20th Century Fox)
Starring Natalie Portman, Ashley Judd, and Stockard Channing

After giving birth in a Wal-Mart, a young woman finds family and love in a small town.



2 stars+

July 28th, 2000 in the Theatre


Cute, and with some really heartfelt moments, but essentially it was turned into a movie about figuring out you love someone right in front of your eyes. 

To be honest, the movie got better after Novalee had the baby.  Unfortunately, as brilliant an actress as Natalie Portman is, she has a hard time looking older.  Five years were supposed to pass in the movie, but she barely seemed to age. 

What the makeup people decided to do was make her look younger and very "cute" at the beginning of the movie, which only made the boyfriend look like an idiot for getting her pregnant in the first place. 

But is she ever gorgeous!  She was always beautiful, something about the eyes, I think.  And she is really growing into a beautiful woman.  But she has a smile that tells her age, and makes her look like a young teen.

Anyway, the story is about the life of Novalee Nation, between one boyfriend, who gets her pregnant, and another, who really wants to take care of her child. 

She is of course abandoned in a Wal-Mart, when her boyfriend gets spooked about the baby.  She lives there for six weeks, tallying what she owes to the store as she uses it.  It can't be a healthy diet, that's for sure!  And I don't want to buy that sleeping bag she was using all the time, especially after her water broke!  Of course, that happens in the middle of the night, with the store all locked up, but the brave soul who gets to deliver her baby is the librarian, who jumps through the plate-glass window to save her. 

She is an instant celebrity, both a hit and for death threats.  Americus Nation grows into a very cute child.  Novalee's mother had run away from her when she was five.  She returns after the baby is born, only to steal away with Novalee's five hundred celebrity dollars. 

So Novalee ends up living with Sister Husband, who is very compassionate, and very, very funny.  ("Forgive us the fornication which we did on this very table" goes a breakfast prayer!)  But Sister Husband dies when a tornado strikes, leaving Novalee once again homeless.  But not without means.  She is left with forty five thousand dollars from Husband's will.  She uses it to start a new life, and build a new house, and buy a new car.  I didn't know money could stretch that far.  Friends did most of the work on the house, but still...

Novalee grows close to the librarian (actually the librarian's brother, but I don't want to go into that), but believes him to be simply an amazing friend.  When his sister dies, they make love, but he goes back to college on the east coast; she lets him go by telling him that she doesn't love him. 

Her friend, played by Ashley Judd, knows her true heart, and urges her to tell him the truth.  Judd's character seems to get pregnant by looking at a man!  She starts off with four kids, and gains two more of her own during the movie, and marries into two more later!  Her life is tragic, as one of her live-in boyfriends molests her kids.  In the end, though, she seems to be in a very loving relationship.

That leaves Novalee sad and lonely.  But she happens on an article in the newspaper about a guitarist who had his wheelchair stolen.  As she received so much charity when she had her child, something draws her to this man, who is nobody less than the man who got her pregnant.  His lost chance at having a life with her prompts her to drive east, so that she doesn't lose her chance with the man she suddenly realizes she loves more than anybody. 

I have to assume that they live happily ever after.  And have more kids! 

Novalee starts off with a tragic life, but builds it stronger and stronger, feeding off the joy her daughter has given her.  The story was cute, and engaging, but I don't think it gave quite enough.  It was definitely worthwhile, and I enjoy watching Portman act any time.


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