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long ago , films were constructed of strong dialogue , original characters , memorable plot points , and solid acting .
one of the best examples that hollywood now completely ignore these qualities is found in the new film where the heart is .
this opus about the power of love and the redemption of family follows the tragic , and i mean tragic , life of novalee nation ( natalie portman ) .
hitting the road with her hick , guitar-playing boyfriend in a rusted-out gm , novalee dreams of the blue skies of bakersfield and sipping chocolate milk beneath a plastic umbrella with her unborn baby , due in a month .
stopping off at a nearby wal-mart for a quick rest , novalee's boyfriend decides to take off and leaves her there .
novalee then decides to secretly hole up in the wal-mart ( because she's not the brightest bulb in the stagelights ) .
a wacky librarian ( keith david ) comes to her rescue when she goes into labor one night while she is camped in the outdoors section of the store .
then the she moves in with a family , befriends everyone in town -- including ashley judd's character ( who has five kids and still can work part-time as a nurse ) -- fights off religious freaks , survives a tornado , breaks the heart of the wacky librarian that saved her , receives an inheritance , builds a martha stewart-esque house , becomes an award-winning photographer , and manages to always look like she stepped out of a cosmo shoot , all while not once doing anything with her kid .
this film is terrible .
the directing is awful : it seems director matt williams had an index card with six angles written on it and used every one of them , over and over and over again .
we get pathetic and ugly acting by natalie portman , who can do good work .
a disjointed pacing of key scenes and a time structure so confusing that it would throw steve prefontaine off .
a subplot that actually validates the actions of the boyfriend who abandoned novalee in the wal-mart parking lot .
an embarrassing display of emotions by the characters , making the audience ill .
taking two great comedic screenwriters , babaloo mandel and lowell ganz , and forcing them to write drama on par with oprah's book club .
altogether , it has the feeling of being trapped at home , watching a very bad television mini-series and wishing it to end , only the remote is broken .
however , the main problem with the film is that it never answers the most poignant question brought up : where is the heart ?
no one ever seems to find it in this piece of junk .