7.2/10
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White Oleander (2002)

PG-13 | | Drama | 11 October 2002 (USA)
A teenager journeys through a series of foster homes after her mother goes to prison for committing a crime of passion.

Director:

Writers:

(novel), (screenplay)
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ON DISC
3 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Girl in Fight
Darlene Bohorquez ...
Prisoner
Solomon Burke Jr. ...
Scott Allan Campbell ...
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Teacher
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Vernon Haas ...
Sean Happy ...
Dirt Bike Boyfriend
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Storyline

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 wyrd_sista_187 <wyrd_sista_187@yahoo.com.au>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Where does a mother end and a daughter begin?

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements concerning dysfunctional relationships, drug content, language, sexuality and violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

11 October 2002 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Laurier blanc  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$16,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$5,607,480 (USA) (11 October 2002)

Gross:

$16,346,122 (USA) (6 December 2002)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Sound Mix:

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Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Alison Lohman wore a wig/was bald throughout the whole film, because she had just previously filmed a role as a cancer patient. See more »

Goofs

When Uncle Ray and Astrid are outside watching the meteor shower he lights a cigarette but when he takes a puff and pulls it away to blow out the smoke there is no smoke and the cigarette is not lit. When Starr comes out and asks what he is doing the cigarette is lit and smoldering. See more »

Quotes

Astrid: Looks don't interest me.
Paul: That's easy for you to say, you've never been ugly.
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Connections

References Melrose Place (1992) See more »

Soundtracks

Happy Hour
Written by Davey von Bohlen, Jason Gnewikow, Dan Didier and Scott Shoenbeck
Performed by The Promise Ring
Courtesy of Jade Tree
By Arrangement with Crusty Old Timer, L.L.C.
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User Reviews

It's been a while since I've seen as good a job at depicting the effects of a strong but flawed mother on her strong but impressionable daughter.
9 October 2002 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"White Oleander," adapted from Janet Fitch's best-selling novel, is hard and edgy about the bond between single mother and daughter, letting us see the reality of a strong artistic mother (Michelle Pfeiffer) tyrannizing her gifted daughter (Alison Lohman). After murdering her lover, mom goes to prison and daughter goes on an odyssey of self discovery in foster families, reminiscent of Burt Lancaster's episodic journey in John Cheever's `The Swimmer.'

In the first home, Robin Wright Penn's fundamental Christian presides over a frenetic household but reveals the sweet chaos of people who really love each other. In the next home, vulnerable actress, foster mom Renee Zellweger brings intimate caring to Lohman at an emotional price. Russian rag picker Svetlana Efremova brings hard-nosed business into Lohman's sights to complete an education of survival. Lohman finds loving understanding with Patrick Fugit, another artist in her life, but one without an agenda.

It's been a while since I've seen as good a job at depicting the effects of a strong but flawed mother on her strong but impressionable daughter. `Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood' tried with Ellen Burstyn as mother and Sandra Bullock as daughter, but the film failed to engage beyond a few shouts and eccentric southerners. `Oleander' has a brilliant artist manipulator teaching her daughter to be independent, even cold, to survive, yet the daughter has a need to be loved that draws her to older men, Christianity, and rebellion. Her psychic search for her absent father serves only to exacerbate the matter.

Pfeiffer does her best work here-- beautiful even in prison, she plays an ugly soul capable of the worst emotional tyranny over her sensitive, intelligent daughter, played with heart-breaking insight by Lohman. I was pleased with Kirsten Dunst last year in "crazy/beautiful." Just substitute Alison Lohman this year.


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