White Oleander - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

White Oleander Reviews

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Super Reviewer
January 20, 2008
On a rewatch, not quite as good as I remembered, but still liked it.
Interesting story about a poisonous mother and the harm caused to her teenage daughter, even while she's in prison after murdering an ex boyfriend for rejecting her.
The movie follows Astrid as she is shunted from foster home to foster home, yet still unable to break away totally from her mother who "would rather see her in the worst type of foster hell" than living with a decent foster mother.
Super Reviewer
September 13, 2011
Really good and interesting story with brilliant performances.
Super Reviewer
May 30, 2007
Alison Lohman is not, in my opinion, the best choice for a protagonist for this one, but Michelle Pfeiffer's never blinking reptile eyes are just about perfect. The story is rather lackluster, but the acting power can be quite extraordinary when handled correctly.
Super Reviewer
½ August 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.
Super Reviewer
January 8, 2009
"No matter how much she's damaged me, no matter how flawed she is, I know my mother loves me."

Nice, off-beat, coming-of-age drama that's reinforced with outstanding performances from Alison Lohman and Patrick Fugit. An intriguing mix of lite dysfunctionality and very sinister behavior.
Super Reviewer
½ July 8, 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.
Super Reviewer
November 16, 2009
Alison Lohman is pretty fantastic and I've really enjoyed her in everything I've seen of hers whether or not I enjoyed the movie as a whole. This movie was pretty heartbreaking and Michelle Pfeiffer was really creepy.
Super Reviewer
½ December 3, 2006
While nothing is subtle in this story of a mother-daughter relationship that borderlines melodramatic, you'll either like it or you won't.
Super Reviewer
October 23, 2007
Eh. They were all baitches.
Super Reviewer
August 9, 2007
The book was so much better...although, I appreciate the film.
Super Reviewer
½ March 12, 2007
Fantastic job by a fantastic cast...
Super Reviewer
½ February 20, 2007
Reasonably well acted and intelligent melodrama that descends into cliche from time to time, but Lohman's mature performance keeps it watchable.
Super Reviewer
January 25, 2007
depressing and trashy
Super Reviewer
½ January 8, 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.
Super Reviewer
½ January 23, 2009
Like the white oleander, Astrid's mother is beautiful on the outside but poisonous on the inside. After she is stripped away from her mother, Astrid struggles to find her true identity apart from her. With every foster home she is shipped off to, she goes through a dramatic metamorphosis to fit in with those around her. I believe this story could have gone deeper, but it was very good artistically and I loved the symbolism.
Super Reviewer
½ May 15, 2010
A tragic telling about a girl who grows up living in various foster homes. Her mother is in prison for murder and she won't let go controlling her daughter. I loved the story and I loved the acting, I would love to see more movies like this.
Super Reviewer
July 15, 2007
This movie was awesome...
Super Reviewer
April 4, 2009
Love is the only emotion that has been able to evoke all the beauty inherent in humanity. Through time, soulful writers and balladeers have poured their hearts out, trying to capture the very essence of love with lyrics and prose. Yet love has also been known to bring forth man's inherent evil. When tainted with jealousy, obsession, envy and betrayal, love can push anyone to commit depraved and heinous acts. Through White Oleander, this point is successfully proven with a tale of how love, in all it's forms, can influence and shape our lives, whether it be for the better or worse.

The film is centered around Alison Lohman's character named Astrid, a mesmerizingly ethereal beauty whose life is thrown into tragedy by her mother Ingrid (played by Michelle Pfeiffer) , an austere and arrestingly beautiful artist who murders her boyfriend after he unceremoniously breaks up with her. Ingrid achieves this by poisoning him with milk laced with White Oleander poison.

Once Ingrid gets hauled off to prison, Astrid is taken into custody by the authorities and is placed for adoption while her mother serves her term.

In the film, Astrid gets sent to live with three families: an unwed couple with kids (played by Taryn Manning and Robin Wright Penn) who epitomize American "white trash" stereotypes, a lonely actress (played by Renee Zellweger) way past her prime and a foster home who adopts young women to employ them as laborers in a flee market.

While she lived in these foster homes, Astrid is thrown, head first, into the stark realities of life; experiencing both illicit and true love, violence, tragedy, death, loss, suffering, loneliness, abandonment, despair and, ultimately, redemption.

To be clear, I know that this film was an adaptation of Janet Finch's classic novel of the same name. I actually own a copy. But, being that I haven't gotten the chance to actually read it despite it being in my shelves for quite sometime, I won't pretend that I know how exacting this film was in translating to the big screen Ms. Finch's book.

Despite this, I still think that the adaptation was moving and beautiful. Told from Astrid's point of view, the film recounts, in gripping detail, her immensely colorful life and, in doing so, creates a panoramic view into the human psyche; showing just how fragile love is and how it can be so easily warped by man's faliability.

From a technical perspective, there isn't much to say about this film's cinematography and soundtrack other than it suited it well. Obviously, this film was all about the storyline. The only thing I can give merit to this film for technically is how well it progressed, developing in a smooth and comprehensive manner along with Astrid's growth.

Yet, even with how good this adaptation was, this film, at best, can only achieve cult classic status. With a multifaceted and admittedly sentimental storyline which spanned two hours, other critics may dismiss this as a pretentious and overly sappy tale.

Regardless, it still didn't stop me from seeing it again and again. I just hope this film gets to touch you emotionally as deeply as it did me.
Super Reviewer
May 25, 2008
I love all of the women in this but Michelle Pfeiffer is AMAZING.
Super Reviewer
½ February 14, 2008
Pretty good mellodrama that caught me by surprise.
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