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White Oleander
     

White Oleander

4.4 20
Director: Peter Kosminsky, Alison Lohman, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robin Wright

Cast: Peter Kosminsky, Alison Lohman, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robin Wright

 

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Expected to bring in both big box office and Oscar nominations (it did neither), White Oleander is the kind of film that generally goes further on home video than in the theaters. The DVD is a mix, though, as the image, framed at 1.85:1 and anamorphic (there is a full-frame version also available) lacks good detail. It's soft, but not a horrible distraction,

Overview

Expected to bring in both big box office and Oscar nominations (it did neither), White Oleander is the kind of film that generally goes further on home video than in the theaters. The DVD is a mix, though, as the image, framed at 1.85:1 and anamorphic (there is a full-frame version also available) lacks good detail. It's soft, but not a horrible distraction, since the actual transfer is nearly perfect. Colors are somewhat muted, though possibly intentional for effect. As for the 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack, it's nothing to get to excited about. Surrounds are basically nonexistent, though dialogue is clear and distinguishable. Fortunately, giving it some life, the bass does go into effect at very appropriate times, creating a deep sonic result. Though far from a special edition, Warner has included a number of extras. First off is a scene-specific commentary track from director Peter Kosminsky, producer John Wells, and author Janet Fitch. Next is a standard Hollywood PR piece, entitled "The Journey of White Oleander," which means you get as many scenes from the film as actual interviews. It doesn't amount to a whole lot. In addition to this is another brief featurette, called (excitingly enough) "The Making of White Oleander." There's little variation between these two though, and seems odd to need both. Also included are six deleted scenes, along with some cast and crew information, and the theatrical trailer.

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

Product Details

Release Date:
03/11/2003
UPC:
0085392341429
Original Release:
2002
Rating:
PG13
Source:
Warner Home Video
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Sound:
[Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround]
Time:
1:49:00
Sales rank:
33,391

Special Features

Closed Caption; 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

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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White Oleander 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although I usually find book adapted movies to be an insult to the book itself, I found this movie to be an exception. Michelle Pfeifer and Alison Lohman could have never done any better than this. This is a true movie, and I am amazed at the extraordinary research that made this so true to life. With so many movies copying previous ones it is a great change of scenes. There has never before been a movie depicting the life of a foster child nor the deep and complex relationship between a mother and child. You have to see it to believe it.
Dizzietese More than 1 year ago
My biological mother made me watch this movie with her shortly after she got out of prison. She didn't go to prison for the same thing but the movie was closely related to how my life went after she was taken. I read the book a few months ago and fell in love with it and the movie all over. I am suggesting you read the book. Its more detailed and a lot more emotional. I am in college and taking a Psychology class and our teach has assigned us to bring in one movie each of human behavior and growth. This is the movie I chose. I recommend this movie to anyone and everyone.
NicNicz More than 1 year ago
I saw this movie when I was having a really hard time getting a long with my mother. This movie has a special place in my heart and always will. I recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys an emotional and intellectual roller coaster.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie simply make Alison Lohmam into the movies. I haven't see her in other movies that top this one though. I enjoy seeing her art work as her salvation and her sweet tender romance unfold inmidst of the mother and foster home situation. I would high recommend the book the writing is so beautiful.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have seen the movie and just finished reading the book. I urge you to read the book and then watch the movie again. The book is much more detailed, of course, but they did a wonderful job converting the book into the movie. A story that seems true to many foster children. Great writing and eloquent use of words. A must see and must read!
SleepDreamWrite More than 1 year ago
It was hard to watch at times but was still a good movie. Good performances though.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Alison Lohman is brilliant in this film, so is Ms. Pfeifer. The harsh reality, which is life itself, that Lohman's character had to go through is sheer pain and pure love at the same time... the movie painted a surreal way of perception.. of being loved, of life and it's ironies. indeed , if we can only create our own perfect world in a suitcase then life would be managable. a must see.
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