White Oleander

Rated NR

Peter Kosminsky’s adaptation of Janet Fitch’s best-selling novel doesn’t paint a very pretty picture of the foster care system when a susceptible young girl is bounced from one broken home to the next after her single mother (Michelle Pfeiffer) is convicted of first-degree murder. However, this unfortunately realistic issue falls a distant second to the emotionally compelling triumphs our teen-aged heroine makes from these misfortunes that optimists might view as opportunities. After surviving a gunshot wound from a former cocaine-addicted stripper (Robin Wright Penn), witnessing the suicide of an utterly lonely out-of-work actress (Renee Zellweger), unwillingly helping a penny-pinching narcissist root through garbage to sell at flea markets, and overcoming the potent propaganda of her incarcerated mother’s hidden brainwashing agenda, Astrid combines these powerful influences to create her own strong and independent self. The stellar cast, namely Alison Lohman of TV’s Pasadena, skillfully portrays the complex hardships life can deal you and the consequences that can prevail.

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