White Oleander


White Oleander

Critics Consensus

Strong performances by the lead actresses make White Oleander a compelling female melodrama.



Total Count: 135


Audience Score

User Ratings: 50,759
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Movie Info

A drama which chronicles the life of Astrid, a young teenager who journeys through a series of foster homes after her mother goes to prison for committing a crime of passion. Set adrift in the world, Astrid struggles to become her own person while coming to terms with the challenges of living life on her own.

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Alison Lohman
as Astrid Magnussen
Michelle Pfeiffer
as Ingrid Magnussen
Robin Wright
as Starr Thomas
Renée Zellweger
as Claire Richards
Patrick Fugit
as Paul Trout
Noah Wyle
as Mark Richards
Stephen Root
as Michael
Scott Allan Campbell
as Bill Greenway
Amy Aquino
as Miss Martinez
Marc Donato
as Davey Thomas
Leila Kenzle
as Ann Greenway
James Lashly
as Reverend Daniels
Kali Rocha
as Susan Valeris
Mark Soper
as Patrick
Liz Stauber
as Carolee
Elisa Bocanegra
as Girl in Fight
Sam Catlin
as Teacher
Sean Happy
as Dirt Bike Boyfriend
Myra Lamar
as Detective
James W. Lee
as Prison Visitor
Daniel Mandehr
as Dad at Auction Area
DeVonda Manghane
as Guard at X-ray Machine
Roger McIntyre
as Police Officer
Cathy Ladman
as Swap Meet Mother
Jennifer Saxon
as Swap Meet Daughter
Carl Sundstrom
as Police Officer
Kimo Wills
as Comic Book Store Clerk
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Critic Reviews for White Oleander

All Critics (135) | Top Critics (34)

Audience Reviews for White Oleander

  • Jan 08, 2013
    Um yeah. This whole thing is set up to be one of those movies that women sit around the television and watch and have a cry over and talk about what a group of talented women can put together if given the opportunity. Somehow it doesn't quite rise about the levels of movie of the week. What a shame.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Sep 13, 2011
    Really good and interesting story with brilliant performances.
    Sophie B Super Reviewer
  • Aug 23, 2010
    What happens to a teenager when her single mother is sent to jail for killing her boyfriend? She lands up in various foster homes and institutions. In this movie, we follow Astrid (played by Alison Lohman) through a number of different situations which seem to be Hollywood's answer to foster homes. The biggest issue Astrid has is her mother. We don't know if Starr actually cares about her daughter, or if she just want to raise Astrid in her image.
    Red L Super Reviewer
  • Jul 08, 2010
    i enjoyed this movie because of the performances of the actresses whose accomplished talents transcend the larger-than-life melodrama into believability. frankly, i don't appreciate the ending, even it does dramatize the flick toward another paramout of "hard-boiled sentiments." personally i find it morbid to request your mom to go to jail just to prove her love for you. (besides, she IS supposed to go to jail because she DID kill the man.) theoretically speaking, the young woman who makes such eccentric request doesn't want the actuality of her mother but a steady symbol which represents MOM. (which is just a signifier) because she's much better-off when her mom isn't around her. she doesn't want her mom as a real person with faults; she wants her mother to simply be a symbol of mom to grant her a false illusion of functionality. her mom's being in jail also enforces another illusion that all the chaotic events didn't happen since mom was sent to jail where she belongs. in a brief, it's a sick vindictive pretension to punish your mom in the glorified name of love. roger ebert: "Astrid, who once idealized her mother, now blames her for the loss of happiness with Claire. But even the movie's big emotional payoff at the end loses something because, after all, Ingrid did murder Barry, and so what is presented as a sacrifice on behalf of her daughter could also be described as simply doing the right thing." isn't your life your own affair? wouldn't it be a bit infantile to trade your mom's illicit freedom for your reformed wholesome self as if your life is not your own but property of her doings? perhaps, the movie is special case since its characters are all abnormal and dysfuntional people (or women) who refuse to participate in any constitutionalized social norm. (ps) why dressing like a death-metal punk girl symbolizes degredation and pfeiffer's mom has to reverse IT? why dyeing your hair back to blonde is a positive sign? that confuses me. consider it coming from a deranged murderess who kills her beau just because he makes love to her and then says her has to leave because he has a date "Its only influence on Astrid is to change her wardrobe and hair color, in what feels more like a stunt than a character development."(ebert) conclusion: white oleander is just a bunch of childish sentiments falsely capsulated with beguiling complexities as if they were sophisticated emotions.
    Veronique K Super Reviewer

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