2002   USA White Oleander
White Oleander Image Cover
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Director:Peter Kosminsky
Studio:Gaylord Films
Writer:Janet Fitch, Mary Agnes Donoghue
IMDb Rating:7.0 (15,305 votes)
Awards:3 wins & 4 nominations
Duration:109 min
Peter Kosminsky  ...  (Director)
Janet Fitch, Mary Agnes Donoghue  ...  (Writer)
Alison Lohman  ...  Astrid Magnussen
Michelle Pfeiffer  ...  Ingrid Magnussen
Robin Wright Penn  ...  Starr
Renée Zellweger  ...  Claire Richards
Amy Aquino  ...  Miss Martinez
Billy Connolly  ...  Barry Kolker
Svetlana Efremova  ...  Rena Gruschenka
Patrick Fugit  ...  Paul Trout
Cole Hauser  ...  Ray
Liz Stauber  ...  Carolee
Noah Wyle  ...  Mark Richards
John Billingsley  ...  Paramedic
Elisa Bocanegra  ...  Girl in Fight
Darlene Bohorquez  ...  Prisoner
Solomon Burke Jr.  ...  Guard
Scott Allan Campbell  ...  Bill Greenway
Sam Catlin  ...  Teacher
Debra Christofferson  ...  Marlena
Marc Donato  ...  Davey Thomas
Vernon Haas  ...  Guard
Sean Happy  ...  Dirt Bike Boyfriend
Elliot Davis  ...  Cinematographer
Comments: Where does a mother end and a daughter begin?

Summary: Fine performances and sensitive direction keep White Oleander from being a routine tearjerker. Adapted from Janet Fitch's bestseller (an Oprah's Book Club selection), this hard-edged drama boasts a reputable cast, but 23-year-old newcomer Alison Lohman steals the film from her A-list costars. As a troubled teen whose controlling mother (Michelle Pfeiffer) has been jailed for murder, Lohman is the film's heart and soul, bouncing between foster homes and rushing toward independence in a world of disappointing adults. After surviving episodic stints with a trashy born-again Christian (Robin Wright Penn), a suicidal housewife (Renée Zellweger), and a Russian immigrant (Zvetlana Efremova), she finds comfort with another outcast (Patrick Fugit), leaving behind the mothers who failed her. Making his feature directorial debut, British stage and TV veteran Peter Kosminsky creates a showcase for formidable actresses, each given moments to shine. White Oleander lacks the emotional depth of Fitch's novel, but it speaks volumes about the delicate balance of freedom and responsibility. --Jeff Shannon

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