The dog in question belongs to the titular Walker Payne (Jason Patric), who's the resident rogue of his little Illinois burg. Laid off from the coal mine at the film's opening, Walker kicks about for some other way of getting by, biding his time in the local watering hole, racking up more notches on his bedpost, and generally charming the pants off everyone - with the exception of the ex-wife (Drea de Matteo), who hates him with a near volcanic passion. Williams was smart enough to give such so much of the film over Patric, a generally underused performer who can slip into moroseness if not nudged out of his corner. The early stretches of the film are concerned with little else but Walker and his dog as they scrounge about town, and it's actually not half bad considering how little is going on. But then the plot starts to kick in, along with the problems.
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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.
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