Astrid Magnussen is a 15 year old girl, living in California. Her mother, Ingrid, is a beautiful, free-spirited poet. Their life, though unusual, is satisfying until one day, a man named Barry Kolker (that her mother refers to at first as "The goat man") comes into their lives, and Ingrid falls madly in love with him, only to have her heart broken, and her life ruined. For revenge, Ingrid murders Barry with the deadly poison of her favourite flower: The White Oleander. She is sent to prison for life, and Astrid has to go through foster home after foster home. Throughout nearly a decade she experiences forbidden love, religion, near-death experiences, drugs, starvation, and how it feels to be loved. But throughout these years, she keeps in touch with her mother via letters to prison. And while Ingrid's gift is to give Astrid the power to survive, Astrid's gift is to teach her Mother about love. Written by
First of all, those guys out there who see the posters and advertising and assume this is some sappy chick flick, you couldn't be more wrong. What it is, is an extraordinarily moving piece of work. It's the kind of film that hits you right in the pit of your stomach. Personally, my mind has a tendancy to wander during movies, but with this one, I was glued to it right from the first frame to the last. It's been awhile since I found myself so touched by a movie.. and it reminds me of why I love movies in the first place. The performances here are top notch. Alison Lohman (Astrid), I never even heard of her before going to see this... but she tackles this difficult role like she has the experience of an award-winning veteran. I'm not even sure most of the big names could pull off this role like she did. Michelle Pfeiffer (Ingrid), who I was never a big fan of, is also excellent...she has a character who's so beautiful, yet so repulsive at the same time. The mother/daughter relationship her character has with Alison's is probably the most unconventional i've seen in a film, and that's what makes it so compelling. Renee Zellweger, as Clare, also gives her best performance here. Her relationship with Astrid is a beautiful but ultimately a tragedy one, mainly due to Clare's infatuation with her cheating husband Mark (Noah Wyle), but I won't give it away of course! ;)
All I really have to say is, if you want to see a movie with strong performances throughout and an excellent story that will leave you fully satisified (and personally touched) when you leave the theatre, this one's for you. I highly reccomend it to everyone! One last thing I should say though... quite often when a movie comes out that's based on a book, the cliche seems to be for people to say "it wont be/wasnt as good as the book". Now, I never read the book to this movie... but the way I look at it, people need to judge the movie for the movie... not the book. If the directors were to follow the book word for word and detail for detail, we'd be left with a movie that would probably take days to watch. The advantage of a book is that you can have a complete knowledge of what the characters are feeling inside their head, which of course you can't always get in a movie unless they make it obvious or tell you how they're feeling truly. The advantage of a movie is that it brings it all to life... and let's you witness it for what it'd be like if you lived out the story. After all, if you were witnessing these actions in real life, you wouldn't have a book to help you understand what thoughts caused them. So, to all the people who go hating a movie before they even see it, just because it's based on a book... keep in mind that the book and movie are essentially two different things and that both have their advantages. I've honestly never seen a based-on-the-book movie where people were completely satisified with how it was translated to film. You can like both the book and movie separately, you know! :)
My rating: 10 out of 10... HIGHLY RECCOMENDED!!!
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