Projections - Movie Reviews

White Oleander

White Oleander

From writer-director Peter Kosminski comes the estrogen-grounded White Oleander.  The film uses the metaphor of the title in a beautiful, but poisonous flower for the character of Ingrid played by Michelle Pfeiffer.  The way the film involves the viewer with the mainly female cast lifts it above a typical coming-of-age story with some noticeable dramatic pull.  Especially new comer Alison Lohman who plays Ingrid's daughter, Astrid.

Pfeiffer's Ingrid is a painter who is beautiful, deceitful and impulsive and takes her reverent daughter down a path of discovery after she casts a fateful impression.  Her lover Barry (Billy Connolly) has made her jealously vengeful.  She is convicted of murder and given a 30 year to life sentence in a maximum security facility.

Kosminski's screenplay follows the teenage Astrid into foster care.  Starr, played vibrantly by Robin Wright Penn, is her first surrogate mother.  Starr expresses strong feeling for the Bible, but puts a big scare into the young woman whom she thinks is after her guy.

Then, it's off to another mother, a jittery unsuccessful film actress, Clair (Renee Zellweger).  Clair genuinely suspects her spouse (Noah Wyle of "ER") of adultery and sisterly befriends Astrid.  Pfeiffer's intense Ingrid has a Mildred Pierce quality that has an effect on Astrid and their visits comprise some of the best scenes.  A mother speaks with candid reinforcement to her fragile blossoming daughter about loneliness, love, and hatred in ways intrinsic to a person's lifestyle.

The drama hits important crescendos and the characters have qualities to keep us interested in where Astrid is heading.  The story is least potent in a mushy wrap-up, and though it's geared for the "Lifetime" channel demographic it draws its sincerity from the attempt to break free from malignant, strained family ties.

 
Frank
Chris
Tony
Jim
Howard
Jennifer
Kathleen
Avg.
White Oleander
B
 
 
B
 
 
B
B
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