The white oleander flourishes in Los Angeles. It is a beautiful plant of dense greenery spotted by white petals when in bloom, yet it is extremely poisonous. Ingrid Magnusson mimics its stunning grace and cold reality in the intriguing film “White Oleander,” based on the novel by Janet Firth.

Todd Weiser
Courtesy of Warner Bros.

After what seemed like mother-daughter bliss, Ingrid (Michelle Pfeiffer), a beautiful liberal-thinking artist, and Astrid (Alison Lohman), a sweet youth of 15, are separated by iron bars as Ingrid is committed to life in prison for killing an unreciprocating lover. Astrid is consequently moved from one foster home to the next, searching for love and her own identity while continually confined by her mother’s manipulation.

The young girl’s journey leads her to Starr (Robin Wright Penn), a hypocritical Christian who takes in children as repentance for her many sins. After conflict, Astrid moves to live with Claire (Ren

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