Everybody's a critic - 'White Oleander'

Friday, October 18, 2002

Three stars

"White Oleander" starts off with the great line, "Some people ask me why I started at the end, but I couldn't fully understand what was happening until I was at the end." That right there made me eager for what was to come.

This movie is about Astrid (Alison Lohman), whose mother (played by Michelle Pfeiffer) murders her own boyfriend and is sent to prison. In only three years, Astrid is shuffled around to three different foster homes, and each one brings more tragedy to her life. Every time Astrid visits her mother in prison, she learns more of the truth about her childhood and who her mother really is.

As Astrid learns more about her mother, so do we. Through a series of flashbacks, we are introduced to Astrid's world and are shown what really happened. In the end, Astrid reconciles with her mother, but more importantly reconciles with herself.

-- Layne Strattman, college student

Three stars

I liked this movie a lot. When I saw the previews to this movie I wondered how well the producer was going to be able to depict this real life scenario. I can put a real perspective on this review because I lived a life somewhat like this. A lot of the scenes really got me to the tears stage.

Michelle Pfeiffer plays a manipulative mother who has no real grasp on reality. I did my fair share of rebelling against the way I was brought up also so I could really relate to her daughter.

The way the daughter found herself despite all the ugliness provided the most heart-grabbing moments of the movie. I had a really hard time seeing through the tears when she realized she was free from her mother's insanity and becomes an artist who bases her work on her life of chaos.

-- Megan Summers, cashier

Two stars

This is a gloomy movie, but Michelle Pfeiffer, Alison Lohman (a new young actress) and supporting cast can't be faulted for their performances.

It is a story about a young girl caught in the foster care system after her mother murders her own lover and is imprisoned. As if witnessing her mother plan and carry out a murder wasn't traumatic enough, Astrid (the daughter) goes through four different homes before she is old enough to be independent: Living with a "born-again" ex-stripper, at a juvenile detention center, with a suicidal actress and last with a Russian immigrant who thinks making money is everything and sentimentality is for idiots. All the while, her mother manages to manipulate her from the jail cell.

The movie is well done, but stereotypes bother me. This story is full of them, from attitudes about Christians and the foster care system to immigrants with dollar signs in their eyes.

-- Susan Sulser, registered nurse

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