Natalie Portman has starred in one blockbuster and two flops. The blockbuster, of course, was The Phantom Menace, which was hardly because of her, and her flops were Anywhere but Here and Where the Heart Is. She obviously doesn't have much star power, even though she is beautiful, talented, and able to attract some big names, such as Susan Sarandon in her last dud, and Joan Cusack, Sally Field, and Ashley Judd in this one (she sure is picking the good scripts as well, isn't she?).
The problem with Where the Heart Is is not the acting, because this movie has a good cast that does a good job. Ashley Judd makes retributions for the lackluster Double Jeopardy, at least in performance, and Natalie Portman continues to show that she has what it takes, if she can just choose a good script.
The problem with Where the Heart Is is that it is just so cluttered and confused it doesn't know where to begin, let alone where to stop. The movie runs several years, which allows the characters to develop, but while watching, I never really got the sense that this movie was spanning five or seven years. The only way I could tell was because characters kept dying and Portman's daughter kept growing.
Where the Heart Is is supposed to be an emotional movie, since several of the main characters die or go through rough circumstances, but not once did I care for any of them. The movie just jumps from one scene to another and it's anyone's guess whether it will be a happy scene or a sorrow scene. Furthermore, Where the Heart Is has several well done scenes... but they don't work well together. A good example is an instance where Portman is almost sucked into the sky by a tornado. Why is there a tornado in this movie? Only to kill off one of the characters. Then there is another time jump and that scene is history.
Also, the movie also follows the "adventures" of Portman's boyfriend who leaves her in the first five minutes for some reason, and he eventually ends up back in the town with no legs. I'm still trying to figure out why they cluttered this movie with him in the first place.
Where the Heart Is has good acting and good scenes, but everything is put together with scotch tape. The transitions are sloppy and nothing seems to work with anything, and what results is a movie that seems hastily done.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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