out of 4
All-Reviews.com Movie/Video Review
Where the Heart Is
Review by MrBrown
No Rating Supplied
For all the surface eccentricities of the story, which derives from
Billie Letts' novel of the same name, Matt Williams' film follows a
simple course where a good-hearted woman is placed in adverse
circumstances and then slowly but surely triumphs over them. Along the
way, she even helps others triumph over their own adversities. Sound
familiar? It should--this is the rubric for the genre that I've come to
call the "Oprah movie": slick, well-meaning, female-empowering, and just
about as exciting and suspenseful as the middle label implies. (Not
surprisingly, Letts' novel was an Oprah book club selection.) Such films
are hard to hate--and, indeed, _Where_the_Heart_Is_ is likable--but
they're just as difficult to get worked up over in the positive sense.
The individual elements are put together with care, but they are also
assembled with an obvious calculation--lending the film a
Portman, on the other hand, remains natural and genuine throughout. But
her "realness" is constricted by the conventions, much like in
_Anywhere_but_Here_, her last film--and another entry in the Oprah genre.
She's too young and vibrant a performer to pigeonhole herself in films
like _Where_the_Heart_Is_, which are precious and nice but hardly the
most interesting and effective uses of her talent--not to mention not the
most interesting and rewarding films to sit through.
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