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White Oleander (2002, Alison Lohman, Michelle Pfeiffer)



A study of a young girl coming to terms with womanhood whilst coping with a problematic mother. A brilliant director in Peter Kosminsky, a great cast and an excellent central performance from Alison Lohman help turn what could have been a fatal TV Movie subject into an emotional journey of depth.

When her volatile mother Ingrid (played by Michelle Pfeiffer) kills her boyfriend and is imprisoned, teenager Astrid (Alison Lohman) is shunted from foster home to foster home. Over the course of three years Astrid learns about life and tries to become her own person whilst even behind bars her mother tries to exert an influence on her.

Interestingly the film is shot solely from Astrid’s point of view, the camera never getting ahead of her and by making ample use of flashbacks and time jumps Kosminsky adds a multi layered dimension to the story, certainly one of the most talented directors working anywhere today (he was the man responsible for the awesome Warriors two part TV Drama) and with a cast including Renee Zellweger and Robin Wright as foster parents and a small role for Billy Connolly you know White Oleander (a very poisonous plant by the way) is never going to less than extremely watchable.

production details
Alison Lohman as Astrid Magnussen
Michelle Pfeiffer as Ingrid Magnussen
Cole Hauser as Ray
Robin Wright as Starr
Amy Aquino as Miss Martinez
John Billingsley as Paramedic
Solomon Burke Jr. as Guard
Taryn Manning as Niki
Melissa Marsala as Julie
James Lashly as Reverend Daniels
Patrick Fugit as Paul Trout
Billy Connolly as Barry Kolker
Renée Zellweger as Claire Richards
Melissa McCarthy as Paramedic
Elisa Bocanegra as Girl in Fight
Sam Catlin as Teacher
Debra Christofferson as Marlena
Marc Donato as Davey Thomas
Svetlana Efremova as Rena Gruschenka
Scott Allan Campbell as Bill Greenway
Leila Kenzle as Ann Greenway
Cathy Ladman as Swap Meet Mother
Drinda Lalumia as Patty
Biff Yeager as Judge
Noah Wyle as Mark Richards
James ‘Kimo’ Wills as Comic Book Store Clerk
Liz Stauber as Carolee
Mark Soper as Patrick
Samantha Shelton as Yvonne
Kali Rocha as Susan Valeris
Allison Munn as Hannah
Brian Mulligan as Bailiff
Dallas McKinney as Owen
Roger McIntyre as Police Officer
Daniel Mandehr as Dad at Induction Area

Director: Peter Kosminsky
Writers: Janet Fitch, Mary Agnes Donoghue

USA | 109 minutes | 2002