Where the Heart Is is a 2000 drama/romance film directed by Matt Williams and produced by Susan Cartsonis, David McFadzean, Patricia Whitcher and Matt Williams. Filmed in Austin, Texas, the movie stars Natalie Portman and Ashley Judd. The screenplay, written by Lowell Ganz, is based on the best-selling novel by Billie Letts.

The film follows Novalee Nation, a pregnant 17-year-old girl from Tennessee, who sets out for California with her boyfriend. When they stop in Oklahoma at the local Walmart, her boyfriend abandons her. Since Novalee has only a few dollars, she secretly moves into the Wal-Mart store. She gives birth to her baby, attracting media attention, and she sets up a new life with the help of new friends. The film was released by 20th Century Fox on April 28, 2000.

Seventeen and pregnant, Novalee Nation (Natalie Portman) sets off on a road trip from Tennessee to California with her ignorant ne'er-do-well boyfriend, Willy Jack Pickens (Dylan Bruno). In Sequoyah, Oklahoma, Novalee asks her boyfriend to stop at Wal-Mart so that she can go to the bathroom and replace her shoes. When Novalee reaches out for her change at the register, the amount of $5.55 sends her into a panic and she runs outside to find that her boyfriend has left.

For the rest of the afternoon, Novalee browses Wal-Mart. She meets Sister Husband (Stockard Channing), who mistakenly believes Novalee to be her long-lost relative, Ruth Ann, and gives her a buckeye tree. Later that evening, Novalee feels sick and runs into the bathroom to vomit, and when she comes out again she discovers that the store is closed, locked, and dark. She soon figures out how to live undetected in the Wal-Mart.

Novalee visits the library and meets Forney Hull (James Frain), who works at the library while caring for his sister (the librarian), whose health has been ruined by alcoholism. Over time, Forney reveals that he dropped out of Bowdoin College in Maine and tells Novalee that he had wanted to be a history teacher before he had to leave school. Novalee goes to Sister Husband's house and explains that she is not Ruth Ann. However, Sister Husband invites her in to stay for some cornbread and buttermilk, and Novalee plants the buckeye tree in Sister's yard.

That night in the Wal-Mart, Novalee wakes up during a thunderstorm when she starts feeling pain in her stomach. Her water breaks and, while attempting to clean it up, she goes into labor. Forney (who watched her go into the store at closing time) jumps through a plate-glass window and helps deliver her baby. The next morning, Novalee wakes up in the hospital, an instant celebrity after giving birth in a Wal-Mart, and is stalked by several newscasters all day. After being asked by her nurse Lexie Coop (Ashley Judd) what she will name her baby girl, Novalee decides to name her baby Americus. Novalee gets to know Lexie, who reveals that she has had four children by three different men. While in the hospital, Novalee gets a visit from her mother (Sally Field), whom she has not seen since she was a child. Her mother asks if she has a place to live. Novalee says no, and her mother says that the two women can get an apartment together. Novalee hands over the $500 that she was given by the President of the Wal-Mart chain to her mother. Novalee agrees that her mother can come pick her and Americus up at 9:00 a.m. the next day. The next morning, Novalee waits for almost three hours in the lobby, but her mother never shows up. That afternoon, Sister Husband offers to let Novalee and the baby live at her house.

Her boyfriend Willy Jack Pickens is shown trying to make it as a country singer, and is hired by agent Ruth Meyers (Joan Cusack).

A few years pass, and Novalee begins a career as a photographer with the help of her friend Moses Whitecotton (Keith David), whom she met at the Wal-Mart the day she was left behind. One day, when a tornado blows through the town, Novalee and Americus hide in an underground shelter, but Sister is out running an errand and does not make it back in time. Sister is killed and their home is destroyed. After the funeral, a lawyer informs Novalee that she is the beneficiary of Sister's estate, worth around $41,000. Novalee proceeds to build a new home for herself and Americus on Sister's land.

One day, Novalee receives a call from Brownie, Lexie's oldest child. Novalee cannot hear what he is saying, and eventually perceives that something bad has happened so she drives to Lexie's house. She finds Lexie in the bedroom with Brownie and Praline, covered in blood and bruised. Novalee permits Lexie and her now five children to live with her and Americus in their new house. Lexie tells Novalee that her new boyfriend had gone to her house and raped her two oldest children, Brownie and Praline, but Lexie returned home from work early and caught him. She attacked him, hitting him twice before he knocked her out. Lexie is at first devastated, but as time passes she and her children begin to heal, and she eventually marries the ordinary but reliable "Ernie the Exterminator" and has another child.

When Forney’s sister passes away due to alcoholism and he does not appear to be at the funeral, Novalee finds him in a hotel and comforts him. Novalee and Forney end up having sex, after which he tells her that he loves her and she doesn't reply. Forney returns to Maine to bury his sister, and the town's people make comments about how he can finally leave town and have a real life. When Forney comes back, he talks about visiting Bowdoin and Novalee realizes that he could now finish his education. Forney says he loves her and wants to get a factory job and stay with her, but Novalee lies, saying she does not love him, and he leaves.

On Americus's 5th birthday, Novalee picks up a newspaper and reads a story about a double amputee being robbed of his wheelchair. The man proves to be Willy Jack, her now ex-boyfriend. She visits Willy in the hospital and he admits that he lied to her when he told her that he didn't feel the baby's heart beat the day he left her behind. Willy says he wishes he could go back and undo the lie, because of how one lie can change your whole life. Novalee realizes that she made a similar mistake lying to Forney. She drives Willy Jack home to Tennessee and then continues to Maine to find Forney at college. Novalee admits to him that she lied and that she really loves him and they return to Oklahoma to get married in a Wal-Mart.

Summary from Wikipedia