White Oleander

White Oleander

4.4 20
Director: Peter Kosminsky

Cast: Alison Lohman, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robin Wright


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The Oprah Book Club best-seller by Janet Fitch makes it to the big screen in this adaptation from British director Peter Kosminsky. White Oleander recounts the traumatic adolescence of Astrid Magnusson (Alison Lohman), who finds herself an orphan after her short-fused, enigmatic artist mother Ingrid (Michelle Pfeiffer) is carted off to prison on murder charges.See more details below


The Oprah Book Club best-seller by Janet Fitch makes it to the big screen in this adaptation from British director Peter Kosminsky. White Oleander recounts the traumatic adolescence of Astrid Magnusson (Alison Lohman), who finds herself an orphan after her short-fused, enigmatic artist mother Ingrid (Michelle Pfeiffer) is carted off to prison on murder charges. Astrid first finds herself in the care of Starr (Robin Wright Penn), a garish, born-again mother of two with a gruff but sensitive boyfriend (Cole Hauser). From there, she's shunted back to a state-run facility, where she tangles with other troubled teens and finds temporary solace in the arms of Paul (Patrick Fugit), a dough-faced comic book artist with dreams of moving to New York City. Astrid then lucks into a living arrangement with a successful but insecure actress (Renee Zellweger) who offers her unconditional love. But Ingrid's stifling influence continues to haunt her daughter, whether through the occasional prison visit or via manipulative letters to Astrid's caretakers. White Oleander received a Gala North American premiere at the 2002 Toronto Film Festival before reaching multiplexes later that fall.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
Janet Fitch’s memorable novel reaches the screen in a meticulously crafted adaptation that provides Michelle Pfeiffer with her best role in nearly a decade. As Ingrid, a smart, free-spirited, and somewhat narcissistic artist who kills her deceitful lover in a crime of passion, Pfeiffer positively radiates intelligent malevolence: this character isn’t just self-absorbed, she’s willfully manipulative. Even while serving a prison sentence, she exerts control over her adoring teenage daughter, Astrid (Alison Lohman), who’s forced to spend her teenage years in a series of foster homes before becoming her own person. Veteran TV director Peter Kosminsky, having undertaken a very ambitious project, acquits himself with distinction. He fully explores the strange relationship of Ingrid and Astrid, but he also takes pain to develop supporting characters -- particularly the kindly but insecure foster parent played by Renée Zellweger and the pious trailer-trash mom played by Robin Wright Penn. Pfeiffer’s intensely strong character is omnipresent, even in scenes in which she doesn’t appear, but Lohman’s Astrid experiences the most growth. At first merely an appendage of her mother, the girl develops character as a result of her peripatetic adolescence. Though Pfeiffer dominates White Oleander’s early scenes, it’s Lohman who brings the film to such a positive, enormously satisfying conclusion.
All Movie Guide - Michael Hastings
Adapting Janet Fitch's florid, overwrought, Oprah-endorsed melodrama to the big screen poses a challenge to any director: Stay true to the source novel and make a laughable, pretentious soap opera, or break away from the book and its legions of fans and make a low-key, introspective character study. The result lies somewhere in-between, as British director Peter Kosminsky manages to do away with most of the novel's over-cooked metaphors and ham-fisted soliloquies in an attempt to get at the crux of the material, all the while retaining the ten-hanky grandstanding that made White Oleander such a big hit. The compromise mostly works, and even when it doesn't, the results are still compelling in a home-sick-watching-daytime-television sort of way. Much of the credit belongs to the two leads: newcomer Alison Lohman, who manages to keep audience sympathy admirably at bay as she tangles horns with Michelle Pfeiffer, who in turn is clearly relishing the chance to break free of her earnest-mom roles to play a venomous "Viking" of a woman again (no matter how overwritten the part may be). Melodramas like this go through Shocking Revelations and Big Speeches with all the unpredictability of a precision marksman at target practice, but Kosminsky, thanks in no small part to some judicious editing, manages to keep the film's mood pitched at a languid, ambient hum -- the emphasis here is on the "mellow" more than the drama.
New York Times
Superbly acted from top to bottom. Stephen Holden
Hollywood Reporter
Graced by several splendid performances and clean direction by Peter Kosminsky that shrewdly chooses to ignore most melodramatic impulses. Michael Rechtshaffen

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Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Warner Home Video
Region Code:
[Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround]

Special Features

Feature-length commentary by director Peter Kosminsky, producer John Wells and original novel author Janet Fitch.; Enthralling additional scenes; 2 behind-the-scenes visits with the cast & creators: The Journey of White Oleander and The Making of White Oleander; Interactive menus; Theatrical trailer; Cast/director/writer film highlights; Scene access; Languages: English & Français; Subtitles: English, Français & Español

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Alison Lohman Astrid Magnussen
Michelle Pfeiffer Ingrid Magnussen
Robin Wright Starr
Renée Zellweger Claire Richards
Billy Connolly Barry Kolker
Svetlana Efremova Rena
Patrick Fugit Paul Trout
Cole Hauser Ray
Noah Wyle Ron Richards
Amy Aquino Miss Martinez
Marc Donato Davey
James Lashly Reverend Daniels
Taryn Manning Nikki
Kali Rocha Susan Valeris
Stephen Root Michael
Liz Stauber Carolee
John Billingsley Paramedic
Elisa Bocanegra Girl in Fight
Darlene Bohorquez Prisoner
Solomon Burke Guard
Scott Allan Campbell Bill Greenway
Sam Catlin Teacher
Debra Christofferson Marlena
Vernon Haas Guard
Sean Happy Dirt Bike Boyfriend
Leila Kenzle Ann Greenway
Cathy Ladman Swap Meet Mother
Drinda La Lumia Patty
Myra Lamar Detective
James W. Lee Prison Visitor
Daniel Mandehr Dad at Induction Area
DeVonda Manghane Guard at X-ray Machine
Melissa Marsala Julie
Melissa McCarthy Paramedic
Roger McIntyre Police Officer
Dallas McKinney Owen
Brian Mulligan Bailiff
Allison Munn Hannah
Jennifer Saxon Swap Meet Daughter
Samantha Shelton Yvonne
Mark Soper Patrick
Carl Sundstrom Police Officer
Kimo Wills Comic Book Store Clerk
Biff Yeager Judge

Technical Credits
Peter Kosminsky Director
Debra Baum Musical Direction/Supervision
Thomas Betts Set Decoration/Design
Steve Bowerman Sound/Sound Designer
Donald Graham Burt Production Designer
Stacy Cohen Executive Producer
Elliot Davis Cinematographer
Susie de Santo Costumes/Costume Designer
Mary Agnes Donoghue Screenwriter
Bryony Foster Set Decoration/Design
E.K. Gaylord Executive Producer
Kristin Harms Executive Producer
Ann Kline Musical Direction/Supervision
Ellen Lewis Casting
Hunt Lowry Producer
Patrick Markey Executive Producer
Thomas Newman Score Composer
Kaaren F. Ochoa Asst. Director
Ilyse A. Reutlinger Associate Producer
Chris Ridsdale Editor
Earl Rose Score Composer
Tony Stabley Art Director
Tracy Underwood Associate Producer
John Wells Producer

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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Working Back (Credits) [2:34]
2. Feeling the Wind [3:03]
3. Barry [5:18]
4. Arrested [1:57]
5. Starr and Ray [3:52]
6. Both in Prison [3:44]
7. Knowing Things [3:57]
8. The Enemy [5:17]
9. Hard Getting Older [4:32]
10. Breaking Point [6:08]
11. Mutual Threats [2:24]
12. Not Interested in Paul [3:57]
13. Runaway Artists [5:05]
14. Question of Happiness [3:00]
15. Claire [1:28]
16. How's She Doing? [3:05]
17. Love Humiliates You [5:37]
18. Broken People [5:57]
19. Poisoned With Words [4:09]
20. Two Choices [3:13]
21. Rena [2:54]
22. Their Project [2:35]
23. Propositions [2:30]
24. Trade for the Truth [4:10]
25. Price of Belonging [3:56]
26. Held Close and Left Alone [5:15]
27. Secret Wanting [3:56]
28. End Credits (Safe and Sound) [2:00]

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