7.2/10
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White Oleander (2002)

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

Director:

Peter Kosminsky

Writers:

Janet Fitch (novel), Mary Agnes Donoghue (screenplay)
3 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Amy Aquino ... Miss Martinez
John Billingsley ... Paramedic
Elisa Bocanegra ... Girl in Fight
Darlene Bohorquez Darlene Bohorquez ... Prisoner
Solomon Burke Jr. Solomon Burke Jr. ... Guard
Scott Allan Campbell Scott Allan Campbell ... Bill Greenway
Sam Catlin ... Teacher
Debra Christofferson ... Marlena
Billy Connolly ... Barry Kolker
Marc Donato ... Davey Thomas
Svetlana Efremova ... Rena Gruschenka
Patrick Fugit ... Paul Trout
Vernon Haas Vernon Haas ... Guard
Sean Happy Sean Happy ... Dirt Bike Boyfriend
Cole Hauser ... Ray
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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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Warner Bros.

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Russian

Release Date:

11 October 2002 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Laurier blanc See more »

Filming Locations:

Santa Clarita, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$16,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$5,607,480, 13 October 2002, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$16,346,122, 8 December 2002

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$21,229,200, 31 December 2002
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Robin Wright and Alison Lohman worked together again on Beowulf. See more »

Goofs

When Astrid, Starr, and Carolee are driving to go get clothes, Starr refers to the reverend of their church as "Reverend Thomas." However, in every other scene before and after this, the reverend is referred to as "Reverend Daniels." Perhaps his name is Thomas Daniels. See more »

Quotes

Astrid: You look at me mother and you don't like what you see. But this is the price... the price of belonging to you.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Additional scenes featured on the DVD release that is not from the final print:
  • A scene where Astrid defends her brother (in the first foster home) after Starr beats him up.
  • A scene immediately after featuring Astrid and her brother (still in the first foster home) lying to the parademic asking how he broke his arm.
  • A scene where Claire can't decide which cereal they want to eat for breakfast and makes Astrid choose one.
  • A scene featuring Claire and Astrid riding home in the car after visiting Ingrid (Michelle Pfeiffer). Claire tells Astrid what Ingrid told her.
  • A scene where Astrid is drawing Claire's picture and Mark asking Astrid if she took his pen.
  • A scene where Astrid leaves to go back to Mac. Mark asks Astrid if she wants to go to Claire's funeral in which she declines to. He then gives her a lot of money before getting to the van.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Film Geek (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Menina D'Agua (Girl of the Sea)
Written by Marcelo C. Madeira (as M.C. Madeira) and Gabi V. Rossi (as G.V. Rossi)
Performed by Tupinikings
Courtesy of LoveCat Music
By Arrangement with Ocean Park Music Group
See more »

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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 jdesandoSee 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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