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

The film in which Claire shows Astrid is 'The Return of the The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' which Renee Zellweger actually starred in. See more »

Goofs

Astrid says her father left when she was two years old when she talks with Ray, but toward the end of the movie, Ingrid tells Astrid her father left when she was six months old. 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

One Perfect Thing
Written by Girls Against Boys
Performed by Girls Against Boys
Courtesy of Jade Tree
By Arrangement with Crusty Old Timer, L.L.C.
See more »

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User Reviews

light review of weighty material
14 October 2002 | by JessSee all my reviews

The white oleander looks beautiful but its poison kills. Social service agencies take children from their abusive parents but place them in homes and institutions where violence reigns. Ingrid Magnussen (Michelle Pfeiffer) puts her daughter, Astrid (Alison Lohman), in the center of her artwork but pushes her to the perimeter of her reality. Life is a contradiction in which nothing is purely good or purely evil.

White Oleander is a story about life's contradictions and the complexities of control, power, loneliness, betrayal, loyalty, and love. Janet Fitch won rave reviews in 2000 for this novel; screenwriter Mary Agnes Donoghue did not match Fitch's brilliance, but turned a weighty narrative-both in terms of content and size-into an admirable film blueprint.

Director Peter Kosminsky and accomplished actresses Pfeiffer, Robin Wright Penn, Renée Zellweger, and newcomer Lohman used this blueprint to create a gripping film that both readers and nonreaders of the original text will appreciate.

Pfeiffer is as cool and controlling as she is stunning even in prison garb, and her mastery of personality subtleties deserves acclaim. Audiences will hate the character because she is too smart, too manipulative, and too real.

And anticipate an Oscar-worthy breakthrough performance from Lohman. She shines in her portrayal of a daughter who worships her mother until she realizes the superficial nature of her beauty and the cruelty of her heart. Ingrid Magnussen is not as perfect as she thinks, and her love is as poisonous as the white oleander.

Stereotypes cheapen some of the film's richness and choices made to avoid an `R' rating sap some of its strength, but overall the film is as compelling as its sad and truthful characters.


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