White Oleander

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Time Out says

'Don't cry! We are Vikings!' instructs Ingrid (a parodically highfalutin' Pfeiffer) to her poor suffering daughter Astrid (Lohman). In her eyes, artist mum is as beautiful and alabaster white as the titular flower, but she proves quite as poisonous too, quickly condemning two-timing boyfriend Barry (Connolly, dire) to death by flower extract, whereupon she receives 35 years to life. Propelled down the rocky road of self-discovery, Astrid is fostered out to trailer park God-squadder Wright Penn, Fagin-like street trader Efremova and insecure Zellweger, who just might offer her a counterweight to the continuing cruel pull of her mother's dominating affections. British TV stalwart Kosminsky's adaptation of Janet Fitch's neo-feminist rites of passage bestseller has its diversions, but it never achieves a proper momentum, nor a consistency of tone or vision. Attempting to imbue this rollercoaster of misery with a bitter sweet, Lasse Hallström-lite atmosphere results in a desultory, desensitising wash. Nor has Kosminsky a particularly sharp eye for Americana, despite the visuals provided by cameraman Elliot Davis. White Oleander was the film that got Lohman noticed in the States and she gives a creditable and likeable performance. But excepting Fugit (Almost Famous) as the sympathetic would-be lover at the forster home, and Hauser as an illicit beau, the cast around her are allowed enough rope to hang themselves high.
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Release details

UK release:

2002

Duration:

109 mins

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