White Oleander (2002)

Director: Peter Kosminsky

Writer: Mary Agnes Donoghue (Screenplay) Janet Fitch (Novel)

Starring: Alison Lohman, Robin Wright Penn, Michelle Pfeiffer, Renee Zellweger, Billy Connolly, Patrick Fugit, Cole Hauser


Plot: A teenager journeys through a series of foster homes after her mother goes to prison for committing a crime of passion.

Tagline – Where does a mother end and a daughter begin?

Runtime: 1 Hour 49 Minutes


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Powerful Look at the Foster System


Story: White Oleander starts as Astrid (Lohman) is living the life with her artist mother Ingrid (Pfeiffer), they are different with how they judge the system, but will stick with each other through anything, that is until Ingrid murders her boyfriend.

Astrid is forced into the foster system first with found again Christian Star (Penn) who clearly doesn’t have enough room for more children. It isn’t long before Astrid moves to the next location showing how her foster system is bouncing her around.


Thoughts on White Oleander


Characters – Astrid is the teenage girl and artist that finds her life turned upside down when her mother is sent to jail, she must learn to be independent going through the foster system in houses she isn’t used to, while balancing the grief of her involvement in the murder. Ingrid is the mother of Astrid that killers her boyfriend in self-defence only to find herself in prison, her style of parenting has encouraged Astrid to think for herself not follow the system. She even tries to control Astrid from in prison. Claire is one of the foster parents, the one that treats Astrid the best even though she is having her own problems. Star is the born again Christian that opens her doors for Astrid to join the large family, she is unstable, jealous and an alcoholic.

PerformancesAlison Lohman gives the best performance of her career in this role, she goes through the different emotional points as she goes through the system. Michelle Pfeiffer is great too here and you can see why she did get early Oscar buzz in her supporting role. Renee Zellweger and Robin Wright Penn are both great in their roles too.

StoryThe story here follows a teenage girl that is forced into the foster system after her mother is placed in prison after a murder charge. This shows us just how difficult the foster system can be on a teenager with each home offering a different situation to get through, forcing her to grow up through the years to make sure she can handle herself in the real world. this does also show the flaws in the system and how a child can be the innocent victim in a crime of passion.

SettingsThe film shows us the different homes that Astrid must go through to, how different families live that Astrid must adapt too.

Scene of the Movie –
The truth.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The foster parents surely can’t have passed any tests.

Final ThoughtsThis is a very interesting look at the foster system in America, how a teenager must learn to grow up after one moment of madness from her mother, it shows how she does change prepare for the world through the hardest circumstances.


Overall: This is a powerful drama that must be watched.




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