Barefoot and pregnant Novalee Nation (Natalie Portman) is deserted by her mullet-haired, mallet-headed boyfriend (Dylan Bruno) in an Oklahoma Wal-Mart; there, six weeks later, she gives birth, becoming something of a regional folk hero. Post-natal, she and daughter Americus are coddled by a clutch of kindly bumpkins, all burdened with ludicrous names—Lexie Coop (Ashley Judd), Mr. Sprock (Richard Jones), Sister Husband (Stockard Channing), Moses Whitecotten (Keith David). Disasters out of bad Faulkner regularly plague these people—one woman is sucked up by a tornado, another dates a pederastic woman-pummeler; Americus is kidnapped by religious freaks, her daddy loses his legs to a train. Novalee floats above the carnage like a serene wisp of incense, ineffectually pursued by a pathetic, pining, nice-guy librarian, essayed by Richard Frain as a combination Boo Radley, Norman Bates, and Ned the Nebbish. Saved from the Dead Popcorn Man only by Channing’s slyly eccentric Sister, and Portman’s continuing inability to deliver a bad performance.