Natalie Portman Ė due to spring twins as Queen Amidala in the next Star Wars film Ė gets a practice run in the motherhood game as she plays a teenage white-trash mum, Novalee Nation, in this chick flick tearjerker.Based on Billie Lettís book, Novalee heavily pregnant and just seventeen, gets dumped by her hick boyfriend in a Wal-Mart supermarket car park in Sequoia, Oklahoma. Homeless and broke, she secretly camps out in the supermarket until she conceives her baby Americus. After Novalee and her daughter are taken under the wing of a good-hearted local couple she begins a Wizard of Oz like journey, in which she picks up a few friends on the path to finding happiness.
With a far fetched story at itís heart, the film oozes contrivance and coincidence; with its dramatic tornadoes, kidnap capers and the inevitable rematch with Americusí father. But itís not a film to take too seriously; a case in point being Natalie and Ashley Juddís (Novaleesí new best friend, the prolific child bearer Lexie Cooper) hair and make up, which is always immaculate despite her humble circumstances.
Itís big on love and sentimentality, with Portman a joy to behold with her instinctive emotional performance shining through. Ultimately, itís a good old-fashioned Hollywood story, rich in warm humanity.Just let it wash over you, or grab yourself a bucket. - David Michael