Astrid Magnussen is a 15 year old girl, living in California. Her mother, Ingrid, is a beautiful, free-spirited poet. Their life, though unusual, is satisfying until one day, a man named Barry Kolker (that her mother refers to at first as "The goat man") comes into their lives, and Ingrid falls madly in love with him, only to have her heart broken, and her life ruined. For revenge, Ingrid murders Barry with the deadly poison of her favourite flower: The White Oleander. She is sent to prison for life, and Astrid has to go through foster home after foster home. Throughout nearly a decade she experiences forbidden love, religion, near-death experiences, drugs, starvation, and how it feels to be loved. But throughout these years, she keeps in touch with her mother via letters to prison. And while Ingrid's gift is to give Astrid the power to survive, Astrid's gift is to teach her Mother about love. Written by
Greetings again from the darkness. Based on the terrific novel of the same name, director Peter Kosminsky's film version of "White Oleander" is quite powerful, yet at times, hollow and choppy. Due to the intricate details of the book, this is somewhat expected, however, as filmgoers, we do not get the full impact of the three years in Astrid's life. Stunning performances by Michelle Pfeiffer and Alison Lohman give the film its power. Their scenes together are as painful for us as for them. Pfeiffer, the most beautiful convict one will ever encounter, shoots a couple of "evil eyes" that are pure genius. She is truly a cobra - don't get too close. I really think Alison Lohman's performance is one of the best I have seen in a while. Touching, heart-breaking, independent, distant and loving, she longs for someone to trust. When she does find her soul mate, she fights the urge, assuming they will somehow disappoint each other. The movie is told through the episodes of each of her foster homes and her struggles to make them work. Robin Wright ("The Princess Bride") plays a sexy, desparate born-again Christian, who mistrusts Astrid, but needs the state funds. Rene Zellweger is fantastic as the broken, no self esteem, wanna-be actress who is desperate for companionship and finds it in Astrid. This is another of Astrids heartbreaking relationships and nearly turns her against the world. Patrick Fugit ("Almost Famous") offers a nice turn as the one who provides the out for Astrid. Subtlety abounds in his performance. Don't miss Billy Connally as the recepient of the flower in the title. Keep an eye out for future films with Alison Lohman - she shows much of the fine acting abilities of Jena Malone. These two should be fun to watch for years.
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