Thursday, May 28, 2009

White Oleander (2002) PG13 - 3½ Stars

A very young Michelle Pfeiffer, she plays Ingrid a possessive, controlling over the edge mother, who has committed murder and even from jail, still is in control of her daughters thoughts. Alison Lohman, is quite beautiful playing the daughter forced to grow up too fast when she is left to fend for herself in a variety of foster homes.

Ingrid (Michelle Pfeiffer), and 15 year old Astrid Magnusson (Alison Lohman), live a somewhat carefree life of artistic bliss. Ingrid has taught her daughter to be independent from men and as long as she stays true to her art, it will provide for her better than any man. But Ingrid is a loaded gun of emotions and proves it one day as she kills her boyfriend for abandoning her, while Astrid waits in the car. When the police arrive at the door to take Ingrid away, Astrid finds herself orphaned and alone and placed in a foster home with Starr (Robin Wright Penn), and her boyfriend Ray (Cole Hauser), along with two other small children. Astrid looks up to Ray having never had a father figure in her life but the attraction increases her sexuality, driving Starr insanely jealous, finally shooting Astrid in an attempt to end the pain.

Astrid is plucked from the surroundings and put in an institution run by the state for orphaned teens. Astrid again must be asked to grow up quickly and learn to defend herself against the other troubled youth in the home. She retaliates by chopping her hair off and befriending Paul (Patrick Fugit), a cartoon artist, who's the only other one she can relate to. Once again, Astrid is giving another chance when Claire Richards (Renée Zellweger), and her husband Ron (Noah Wyle), who can not have children of their own, bring Astrid in to mend their relationship in the home. Claire herself is an insecure emotional wreck and Astrid is just what she needed to make herself feel whole. Together the two form a tight bond until Ingrid finds out her daughter is no longer in need of her guidance. She contacts Claire and feeds her without enough poisonous doubt to drive a wedge between her daughter and Claire. But Astrid must make a choice, putting her mother's wishes aside, freeing herself from the control of her adolescence to blossom into the next stage in life.

Warner Bros. Pictures Distribution, John Wells Productions, Oleander Productions, Pandora Films
Director: Peter Kosminsky
Writer: Mary Agnes Donoghue
Producers: John Wells, Hunt Lowry
I viewed 5/09

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