White Oleander chronicles the life of Astrid (Alison Lohman), a young teenager who journeys through a series of foster homes after her mother (Michelle Pfeiffer) goes to prison for committing a crime of passion. Set adrift... more » in the world, Astrid struggles to become her own person while coming to terms with the challenges of living life on her own.« less
Brad S. (Snibot) from DALLAS, TX Reviewed on 2/19/2010...
OK I'm a guy and this is a chick flick, but it is REALLY good. There are some powerful performances by some fantastic actresses who really poured themselves into their roles. The movie is very well written, directed, and of course acted. The use of time line is constructive but isn't confusing. My preference is for movies that keep moving and telling the story instead of dragging on and on pointlessly, this one keeps you on your toes, thinking what craziness is going to happen next. The Film doesn't lose anything on the second watch (or on the eighth for that matter.)
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
David Khaindrava | Austell, GA | 10/27/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is one of very few examples of how a great book can be made into an equally good movie. Screenplay is brilliant, story line is very closely kept with the book, which is always a must contrary to popular beliefs. Directing is excellent, casting even better. Watching these actors playing these characters almost made me forget that I was watching the movie and not the real life. Watching Astrid shad her innocence and step into womanhood through hardship and deception was as magnificent to watch as it was painful. And should I even speak of Michelle Pfeifer? She has an Oscar written all over her for that performance. Her glares alone deserve a recognition. Lets not forget excellent performances by Renee Zelwegger and Robin Wright Penn. For all those (man) who think this is a chick flick (much like I thought before I watched it) it is not. This is a story of love, deception, transformation and letting go. A story about how all of us have to find our own path in life regardless of obstacles. All filmmakers should take notes, because this is how you tell a story. Bravo"
Memorable Performances in a Highly Dramatized Movie
Nancy R. Katz | NJ | 10/30/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"White Oleander, featuring Michelle Pfeiffer and Alison Lohman, is the movie based on the book by Janet Fitch. Viewers of the Oprah Winfrey daytime television show and readers will recall that this book was one of Oprah?s book club selections. Now this compelling and disturbing book has been brought to the silver screen in what many viewers will agree was an intriguing and well-crafted movie. And rarely, if ever in my opinion, has a movie been so finely done or as faithful to the book as was done in this movie. In addition the cast was well chosen and the performances are creatively superb, handling a most difficult subject. Michelle Pfeiffer, in the lead role, plays Ingrid Magnusson, a single parent and artist who is raising her adolescent daughter Astrid played by Alison Lohman. Ingrid is an incredibly selfish woman with a Bohemian lifestyle who treats Astrid more like a friend than her child. While Ingrid?s life is dictated by her passions and whims, Astrid is merely a bystander to the lifestyle Ingrid dictates for them. When she is angered by the rejection of her current lover and while Astrid sits in their car, Ingrid poisons her lover with the inner juice of a white oleander plant ultimately killing this man. When Ingrid is arrested by the police, Astrid is removed from their home by social services and becomes a ward of the state. Now the focus of the movie shifts from Astrid as Ingrid?s daughter and work in progress to Astrid, a child who will become much too familiar with the foster care system in Southern California. Unfortunately for Astrid, the foster homes she stays in are less than happy situations for her and she also must contend with Ingrid?s views of her foster mothers as she goes from home to home, learning more about the seamier side of life than any child should have to learn at this pivotal time in her life. And all the while Astrid remains loyal to Ingrid as she continues to be subjected to her when she visits Ingrid in prison.This is a movie populated mainly by an all female cast. Michelle Pfeiffer plays Ingrid with a mixture of anger and compassion about her situation and Astrid?s circumstances. And both Renee Zellwegger and Robin Wright Penn shine as two very different types of foster mothers who greatly influence Astrid?s life. But if the movie belongs to one actor it is Astrid played by Alison Lohman who shines as the confused young woman forced to face life as an adult way before her time. And the last scene as Astrid becomes an artist in her own right and creates valises filled with the faces and objects of her life which remains with the viewer long after the movie ends.I found this to be an excellent movie especially since I read the book. The director and other associates are to be commended for tastefully presenting a difficult subject to the audience in such a fine manner. One is left with a feeling of hope that Astrid, despite her early difficulties will succeed as an adult."
Good and hard
Robert Kall | Newtown, PA | 10/14/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This was an intense, powerful extraordinarily well done movie that is so good it hurts. Think Sophie's choice. It's about a teen-aged daughter whose mother gets herself sent to jail for a long time, leaving the daughter to drift from foster home to foster home. We see a sweet kid exposed to situations that turn her hard, angry, jaded. And while we watch this we know that this happens every day, every minute to kids all over the world, millions of them. Michelle Pfeifer is amazing as the self absorbed, possibly borderline possibly sociopathic mother who tries to manipulate her daughter remotely, from jail. Alison Lohman plays the teenage daughter. She does a great job and shows terrific promise as a versatile actor. With her next film, Matchstick men, directed by Ridley Scott, she's off to a great start, with a good half dozen films already under her belt. This is a great movie, but don't expect to walk out feeling uplifted. Try feeling like you've been hit in the stomach. Still, it is worth seeing, really worth it."
One of the BEST movies I've ever seen
Susan | Utah, USA | 10/17/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"White Oleandar is a very "between the lines" type of movie. Very intense drama up front as Astrid deals with different foster homes. She is the young daughter of a mother who kills her boyfriend. It gives one a glimpse of the perils of the foster home system, yet, has an underlying message of a child who grows into a woman, and has to divorce herself from the controlling influence of her mother. I watched this movie again, in order to understand all of the underlying hidden messages. It also has a wonderful cast. Michelle Pffeifer is as usual strong and beautiful. Allison Lohman who plays Astrid, is wonderful as a child of 12 maturing into a teenager, and a young woman. I loved Robin Wright Penn as Starr, the jealous foster mother. Renee Zellwegger stands out as Claire, Astrid's second foster mother, who is loving, but insecure. She also is a threat to Astrid's own mother, who is jealous of the relationship between Claire and her daughter.. I recommend this movie to anyone. It is a classic... The book is just as good as the movie"
Alison steals the show
sun_kissed | San Diego, CA | 01/24/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"White Oleander was a relatively good adaptation from the wonderful novel by Janet Fitch. Some of my favorite relationships weren't included in the movie, but of course everything can't be incorporated. Alison Lohman stole the show, acting side by side with big-time actresses such as Michelle Pfeiffer, Renee Zellweger, and Robin Wright Penn (who all did excellent jobs as well). White Oleander is about Astrid's (Lohman) journey from foster home to foster home and the relationships she makes along the way. She must overcome adversity, and deal with the fact that her domineering mother is in prison for murder. Even from the cell, her mother (Pfeiffer) has a large impact on her daughter's life. Astrid's eyes are opened along the way, as she faces the hardest years of her life alone."