White Oleander

Year: 2002
Director: Peter Kominsky
Cast: Allison Lohmann, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robin Wright Penn, Reneee Zellweger, Cole Hauser, Patrick Fugi, Noah Wyle, Billy Connolly
A long journey for a movie, a little repetitive in that it could have been a three-volume miniseries, one with each foster parent.

Astrid (Lohmann) is a young girl of 15 when her fiercely independent, headstrong mother (Pfeiffer) is dragged away to jail for the murder of a boyfriend. She moves from one foster home to another, including that of ex stripper turned trailer trash Christian Starr (Wright Penn), the well to do but unhappy Claire (Zellweger), and a hellhole institution, where she meets the shy but likeable Paul (Fugit).

And the whole time, her mother is pulling her strings from jail, writing letters, turning Astrid's mind wherever she sees fit, asking to meet Claire and (Astrid believes) prompting her to commit suicide.

Far from an evil ogre though, Astrid's mother Ingrid is one of the most complex and interesting characters in any movie - unapologetic, wanting her daughter to grow up away tougher and smarter than the petty concerns of most people, never wanting her to lapse into a lazy pre-drawn way of thinking.

Astrid though, just wants somewhere to belong where they will love her, and grows up appropriately screwed up until the arc of her character leads her to believing she must cut her mother off and unlearn everything she's been taught to fit in with the rest of the world.

Interesting characters and well acted and directed. At times hauntingly tender because of a beautiful soundtrack.

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