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White Oleander (2002)

109 minutes

Directed by Peter Kosminsky
Written by Janet Finch (novel), Mary Agnes Donoghue (screenplay)

 · Alison Lohman
 · Michelle Pfeiffer
 · Renee Zellweger
 · Noah Wyle
 · Robin Wright Penn

Review by Dante

I hadn't heard of White Oleander until it came out on DVD. As I stopped by it, I looked at the cover and the casting, and said to myself "chick flick." This being said, I had no expectations for this movie besides possible entertainment.




White Oleander, in short, is about a girl, Astrid (Alison Lohman), who is forced to cope with life after her mother (Michelle Pfeiffer) kills a man. Thereafter, the moviegoer follows Astrid through the ensuing part of her life and watch her mother attempt to control Astrid. I know, that sounds like a rather enticing plot.

On paper, the cast looks quite stellar. However, the cast never seemed to mesh for me. Alison Lohman was definitely the highlight of the movie, her acting was superb, whereas Michelle Pfeiffer never seemed to fit the role. Her acting was continuously over-the-top and it really hurt the points the story was trying to achieve. The movie had reoccurring themes concerning letting go, jealousy, etc., but when Pfeiffer attempted to make a serious statement, it almost became laughable how she seriously she took herself. The directing was average and camera work was good, but the movie failed to make the most out of the cast. Perhaps, the problems behind this movie were limitations by the writing, even if it were a Janet Finch best-seller.




To be honest, White Oleander never fully kept my attention. With Pfeiffer's overacting and the uninteresting plot, the movie never became anything better than average. White Oleander was quite depressing and it seemed to go on forever. Although they say 109 minutes, I beg to differ, it seemed like it would never end. Too many scenes seemed to be dragged out longer than necessary and I was just waiting for the plot to kick in. Never, did it seem that the story was actually going anywhere.



White Oleander isn't the type of movie I'd watch again, not because of the genre, but because it was merely average. I was definitely right about it being a "chick flick." This movie would appeal to those who are big fans of the actors/actresses in the movie but, to their average fans, they will find it a lackluster film that may be worth a rental if you're up for mediocrity.

379 Words Published: 22 March 2003

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