White Oleander (2002) Script

Everybody asks why I started at the end and worked back to the beginning.

The reason is simple.

I couldn't understand the beginning until I'd reached the end.

There were too many pieces of the puzzle missing.

Too much she would never tell.

I could sell these things. People want to buy them.

But I'd set all this on fire first.

She'd like that.

That's what she would do.

She'd make it just to burn it.

I couldn't afford this one, but the beginning deserves something special.

But how do I show that nothing, not a taste, not a smell, not even the color of the sky has ever been as clear and sharp as it was when I belonged to her.

I don't know how to express that being with someone so dangerous was the last time that I felt safe.

The Santa Anas blew in hot from the desert that fall.

Only the oleanders thrived.

Maybe the wind was the reason my mother did what she did.

If it was, I wouldn't have known.

I lived in her shadow then.

She was the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen.

I know everybody thinks that when they're small, but she was the most beautiful woman most people had ever seen.

He came into our lives without warning.

She ignored him at first.

He wasn't her type.

We laughed about him, his persistence.

"Never let a man spend the night," she said.

"Never apologize, never explain."

She was breaking all her rules... and it would change everything.

What are you doing up here?

Come sit next to me.

It's the best place to feel the wind.

I can feel it from here.

No, you can't.

It's okay.

You should get some sleep.

I never sleep.

I've been up here for hours.

I had the most amazing idea for how to use my Polaroids in the Newport show.

I'm going to skip work today.

Keep going until I finish.

You're still coming to Parents' Night, aren't you?

Oh, God, I forgot.

I made plans to go to Greta's opening.

All the other parents go.

What can they tell me about you that I don't know already know?

Time is up! Pencils down.

Papers, please. Thank you.

Thank you.

Time, Astrid.

Is your mother coming tonight?


She has other plans.

More important than Parents' Night?

She's an artist.

She doesn't care about things like Parents' Night.


Don't forget, you guys, chapters 17 and 18 for tomorrow.

Finished my mug shots.

What do you think?

They're great.


You're not looking.

You can't be an artist if you don't see.

Why do you think they're great?

I don't know.

They're lonely.

It's me in the center.

It's our secret.

You can't tell anybody.

I won't.

I never tell our secrets.

It's the deer-in- the-headlights look.

It's hilarious.

How long has this been going on?

Couple months.

His wife will figure it out sooner or later.

Ah, she's an idiot.

Cinema Scene.

It's Barry Kolker again.

Tell him I was killed in a climbing accident in the Himalayas.

Barry, she's still out of town.

We don't have any eggs.

We never have any eggs.

Barry can take us out to breakfast.

Barry spent the night?


I bet he's still out of town on that assignment.

I called the magazine.

He got back three days ago.

Well, he's probably working.

He doesn't call when he works.

He doesn't call when he's getting what he wants from somebody else.

I don't think we should do this.

He'll get mad.

I'll just say we were in the neighborhood.

He won't believe us.

You're not my type.

You're not my type.

What happened?

He has a date.

He made love to me and then said I had to leave because he has a date.

You're under arrest for the murder of Barry Kolker.

They can't keep me!

I'll be back in an hour!

You must be Astrid?

I'm Miss Martinez from Children's Services.

I'm here to pick you up.

If you need more time to pack, I can give you 15 minutes, but that's it.

I'm not going anywhere.

I'm waiting for my mother to come home.

Your mother won't be coming home... at least not for a while.

In accordance with the laws of the state of California, I sentence you to the term prescribed by law for murder in the first degree.

Not less than 35 years to life in a maximum security prison.

Hello, Starr. How are you?

I'm fine!

How are you?

Good to see you.

Good to see you.

But y'all must be starving after that long drive.

I hope you like olive loaf, because I made enough to feed an army.

How was the traffic?

It was bad downtown, but it cleared up pretty fast. Astrid?

There you go.

Astrid Magnussen, this is Starr Thomas.

It is so nice to meet you, Astrid.

Come on in!

Let me help you with that.

Was it a long drive?


I hope you didn't bring a ton of stuff because you have to share a bedroom with my daughter, Carolee.

So this is our home.

This is where we have company, usually.

And then in here is the kitchen, and what not.

The boys sleep in here, in the living room because we don't have enough bedrooms.

That's Davey, in the glasses, and Owen.

This is Astrid, boys.

You say hi?


I said get out here, right now.

Let's just go in there.

This is Carolee, my daughter.

Make some room, okay?

And this is where you're going to be sleeping.

And she'll clean all that up, don't worry.

Don't mind her. She's hormonal.

The problem is she hasn't been saved.

What about you?


Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior?

I don't know.

Well, when you do, he'll be waiting.

This is where Ray and I sleep, and the bathroom is right here.

Let's go back in here.

Ray's home late tonight because it's his poker night.

And he's a good man, and all, but don't talk to him about Jesus.

He acts like he's the repo man or something, not a carpenter like him.

You must be the new addition.

I'm Ray.

Or Uncle Ray, but that's Starr's idea.

Not mine.

I'm Astrid.

It's nice to meet you, Astrid.

You coming in?

How come?

I'm thinking.

What about?

My mother.

Starr was telling me about her.

She's doing time for killing her boyfriend?

Yeah, well, those things happen.

Come in when you're ready, okay?

That slut thinks she can tell me what to do?

She said I was grounded.

She's the mother in The Brady Bunch.

Listen to that.

Saved by Jesus.

She's such a hypocrite.

They shouldn't be doing it. They're not even married.

Reverend Daniels always sniffing around here, blah-blah-ing about Jesus.

All he really wants to do is to look at her ass.

Don't forget to leave the window open.

Don't look at me like that.

You're no different than I am.

You just don't know it yet.

I'm going to kill you!

I'll strangle you!

You bloody bitch!

Sin is a virus.

That's what Reverend Thomas says.

It's infecting the whole country like the clap.

You know they got a clap now you can't get rid of?

I think we've got every excuse in the book.

"What's wrong if I shovel coke up my nose?

Who's it hurting?"

"What's wrong with wanting to feel good all the time?

Who does it hurt?"

Well, it hurts us.

And it hurts Jesus.

Because it's wrong.

I don't know how you can swallow that shit.

"He who believeth in me, though he was dead, yet will he live."

And don't you forget it, missy.

Here we are.

Are you kidding?

It's a miracle I'm not dead.

They took my kids away and everything.

I was an alcoholic, I was a coke head, I was dancing topless, you name it.

Shut up, for Christ's sake. People are staring.

Astrid, look! Look at that!

That is going to go perfect with your new shoes!

I mean, I really felt like that!

"Who cares if I hang my tits in some stranger's face?"

It's nobody's business but mine.

You know what? This is going to be good on you.

Astrid, those are ugly shoes.

Snakes don't bite above the ankle.

Well, take my word for it, you're better off being bitten by snakes than dressing for them.

Carolee, we need to get her some bras.

Carolee had her first bra when she was nine.

You don't want them things hanging to your knees when you're 30.

Try it on. That'll be good on you.

Carolee, will Ray love that?

Look that. That is so nice!

Hurry, Astrid. It's here!

I told you you were going to miss it!

Astrid. This one is for you.

Who is it from?

My mother.

I didn't think she knew where I was.

Dear Astrid, have you been getting my letters?

It's been six months. Why don't you write?

It's only a few minutes before they turn out the lights.

I can hear the women screaming in their cells.

We're both in prison, you and I, punished for our strength and our independence.

Don't forget who you are.

The best part of me is well-hidden, and you have to do the same.

Remember it all, every insult, every tear.

What are you doing?

I'm writing a letter to my mother.

You ever write your dad?

I don't know where he is.

I never met him.

He left when I was two.

Your mother tell you much about him?


Aren't you curious?

I think about what he would think of me.

He probably thinks you're still two.

That's how I remember my son, Seth.

You have a son?


Hey, Ray!

Hey, Patty.

You're going to the Jesus show?

Aren't you coming?

To Bible study? No.

In my opinion, if there's a God, he sure as hell ain't worth praying to.

That sounds like something my mother would say.

She wouldn't even take me to the Christmas pageant at school.

She made me beg a ride off another kid.

Hey, Ray.

How you doing, Reverend?

I don't think he likes me very much.

Why don't you and Starr get married?

Because I'm already married.

Astrid, come on in. We're starting.

Okay, I'm coming.

Where's your wife?

Who knows?

I haven't seen her or my son in over five years.

I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Do you believe in God now?

Maybe it's not such a bad thing to believe in something.

It's better to know things.


What does knowing things get you?

Does it tell you the difference between right or wrong?

She didn't kill that guy alone.

I knew what my mother was doing, you know?

I could've saved his life but I didn't.

Come on.

I'm going to kill you, Ingrid!

You think there was something valuable on that hard disk?

Maybe a collection of essays due at the publisher's this fall.

You bloody bitch!

You can't do this to me!

You don't know what I can do.

Know your inmate's number.

No number, no visit.

Hey, baby.

Astrid Magnussen?

Astrid? Follow me.


No, no, no, no, no.

Don't cry.

We're not like that.

We're the Vikings, remember?

You're so beautiful.

Prison agrees with me.

There's no hypocrisy here.

Kill or be killed, and everybody knows it.

Do they hurt you?

Not as much as I hurt them.

I won't be in here forever, I promise you that.

One day, you'll look out your window, and I'll be there.

Your hair smells like clover.

I want to remember you just like this in that sadly hopeful pink dress.

Starr picked it out.

Of course she did.

What's that?


It's just a cross.

I know it's a cross.

Why are you wearing it?

It's a present from Starr.

She force you to go to church?

They're really nice people.

It's called the Assembly of God.

To join, you have to accept Christ as your personal savior.

Then you're baptized.

They call it being washed in the blood of the lamb.

But really it's just water.

Have you accepted Christ as your personal savior?

There's nothing wrong with being a Christian.

Are you out of your mind?

How did this happen?

I raised you.

Not a pack of Bible-thumping trailer trash.

I raised you to think for yourself.

No, you didn't.

You raised me to think like you.

And maybe thinking for yourself isn't so great.

Reverend Daniels says it's evil.


If thinking for yourself is evil, then every artist is evil.

Is that what you believe?

Now that you've been washed in the blood of the lamb?

Man's ability to reason is evil. Am I evil?



But killing people who don't want you is evil.

We pray for your redemption every Sunday.

Fuck my redemption. I don't want to be redeemed.

I regret nothing.

- Attention, please. - Visiting hours are over.

It's good that you're trying to identify evil, Astrid.

But evil is tricky.

Just when you think you know what it is, it changes its form.

Learning its nature takes a lifetime of study.

I will not lose you.

Not to them.

Those people are the enemy, Astrid.

Visiting hours are over.

Write to me.

Time's up.

Write to me. At least once a week.

I'm the only person you know who can keep you honest.

Don't forget who you are, Astrid.

You're my daughter and you're perfect, remember?

How far away is it?

About a mile.

Maybe two.

Shouldn't we pack up and go?

Not yet.

The wind is still in our favor.

My mother used to love fire season.

She made me decide what I'd take if we had to go.

She said if I was brave, I wouldn't take anything.

Your mother sounds tough.

Not like you.

What am I like?

You, you're... you're a sweetheart.

Astrid, honey.


Come on in here a minute.

Sit down. I won't bite.

You're having fun here aren't you?

Making yourself at home, getting comfortable?

A little too comfortable, I'd say.

I may not be some genius, but I'm getting your game.

And believe me, it takes one to know one.

One what?

Always hanging around, handling his tools.

"What's this for, Uncle Ray? Can I help you, Uncle Ray?"

We're not doing anything.

I'm calling Children's Services I want you to know.

It's all over for you, little missy.

But... Don't "but" me.

He is a man.

And he sees what he sees, and he does what he can.

I've got a nice thing going here.

Ray is the best man I ever had, and I've lived too long and come too far to blow it now.

I never had a father.


I've got myself and my own kids to worry about.

You and me, we hardly know each other.

I don't owe you a thing.

Jesus would give me a chance.

Well, I'm not Jesus, not even close.

He might be mad... if he knew you sent me away because you were jealous.

You're trying to make him a prisoner.

He's going to hate you.

What do you know about men?

I know that men don't like women who try to own them.

I like you.

I like the kids.

I would never do anything to screw it up.

You swear you're not interested in him?

I swear to God.

There! Did you see it?

I'm not sure.

You see anything yet?

It's just starting.

But we should be getting 40 an hour pretty soon.

The Quadrantid is the shortest-lived meteorite shower, but the densest, except for the Perseids.

You and Starr, you having a beef?

No. Why?

Just something she said.

Guess it's hard, getting older... pretty girl coming up in the house.

Ray, honey?

What are you doing out here?

Nothing, baby. Just having a smoke.

Looking at the stars.

And this is 40 dollars, not even 40 dollars a month.

And you waste

200 dollars in one night?

And you been doing it weekly.

Listen, I won last week.

What else you doing with the money, Ray?

You can't even look at me!

I'm looking right at you.

You weren't when I asked you that question.

And you got your car out there.

God knows what you spend on that.

That comes out of my pocket. No, it doesn't.

Don't ruin this.

Ruin what?

She's drinking again.

And who else were you with?

I saw you eyeing her the other day.

Thought you were all going to a movie?

I had a lot of homework.

How come you aren't playing poker?

The game got cancelled.

They coming home soon?

Not too long.

Well, there's plenty of food, if you want.


This isn't right.

Is everyone gone?

It is all my business!

This is my house!

You have to abide by the laws that I put down!

I waited up for you all night long.

I want to know who you were with.

Don't give me your shit!

You stayed up all night to drink!

I stayed up to catch you, you whore!

You should know.

Try it again, I'll take you out, bitch.


You walk out that door, don't bother coming back.

Why the hell would I want to?

I've been down this road with you before, Mom.

Sorry, Davey.

I can't go through this again.


You used to like it fine before you started doing that little bitch!

Admit it, you bastard! You're screwing her!

Call your sponsor. Screw my sponsor!

Go back to bed.

I should've gotten rid of her when I had the chance.

You know what I'm going to do?

I'm going to go in there, and I'm going to cash her check.

Hey, Starr, stop it.

Hey! Stop!

What the hell is wrong...?

Get off of me!



Get off of me, goddamn it! Get off of me!

No, don't cry.

We're not like that.

We're the Vikings, remember?


Astrid? Can you talk to me?

Astrid. Talk to me.

Can you talk to me?

Okay, she's coming around.

This boy saved your life.

If he hadn't called 911, you'd be dead.

Who did this to you? Who shot you?

I don't know.

Watch your feet.

Where's Ray, Davey?

He's gone.

They're both gone!

I'm sorry.

I'm so sorry I ruined it.

Doesn't matter.

Something would have.

Bye, Astrid.

Watch the step.

We got you, Astrid.

Okay, step.

We'd prefer to find you a permanent placement, but we have so many children on our books right now.

The hospital said you need special attention which you'll get at McKinney Hall.

They have all sorts of activities for young people.

You're dead, bitch! You hear me? You are dead.

Don't you ever look at my boyfriend again, you hear me?

Don't ever look at my boyfriend again.

If you look at my boyfriend, you're dead!

The next time you and your friends jump me, I'll cut your throats when you're sleeping.

What do you want?

I was looking at your picture.

It's good.

Who is it?

How come you chopped off your hair?

None of your business.

You're still beautiful.

Looks don't interest me.

That's easy for you to say, you've never been ugly.

Oh, look.

It's the puta.

She's so ugly now, huh?

You're not ugly.

You write as if you're surprised to find me still beautiful, even here.

Our beauty is our power, our strength.

We can't allow them to change us, to lessen us.

I will never grant them that satisfaction, and neither should you.

So is this your first time in Mac?


You're so unfriendly.

Life is easier without friends.


I like it here.

It's better than being in a foster home.

It's the floor you can't fall below.

What's that?

A letter.

From who?

My mother.

And where is she?

In prison. For murder.

And your father?

Don't know the guy.

How about you?

Oh, they were junkies.

She O.D.'d when I was six, and he disappeared a couple years later.

I was born addicted to heroin.

Really? What was that like?

I don't know.

I was out of rehab by the time I was six months old.


What's the deal? Are you gay?


I don't know, I get this funny feeling from you, like you're not interested in guys.

You're right, I'm not.

You think that's funny?

I'm sick of this. I'm not going to let you do this again.

Why don't you shut up, okay?

What if they catch us?

They'd put us in McKinney Hall.

Come on!

The guy is a genius.

I started out copying his stuff, but...

I could never touch him.

He's great.

But you're better.

You're insane.

No, I'm not.

He's a great cartoonist, but you're an artist.

What's the difference?

That's like asking why a joke is funny.

Either it's funny or it's not.

You're either an artist or you're not.

You are.

That's good.

There's another one! Do you see it.


The Lyrids shower is visible most of the night.

The brightest star is Vega... but you can't look right at it or you'll miss the fainter meteors.

You can trace them back to Lyra.

How do you know all that?

A kid I used to know.

I used to have a foster home right over there.

It's nice living on the beach.

Do you ever think about your father?

Not really. He was an asshole.

I think about mine sometimes.

That when I'm an artist, he'll read about me in the papers and he'll want to meet me.

I'm not gay.

I know that.

I'll show you the one he did of me.

It's right... right here.

They're not bad for what they are.

For what they are?

What are they?


No, they're not.

They're so much more than that.

He's really talented.

Don't do it again, Astrid.

Do what again?

Attach yourself to anyone who shows you the least bit of attention because you're lonely.

Loneliness is the human condition.

No one is ever going to fill that space.

The best you can do is know yourself, know what you want, and don't let the cattle get in the way.

You're not talking about me.

You're talking about yourself.

Sometimes I get the feeling you don't even want me to be happy.

Why wouldn't I want you to be happy?

Where are they sending you?

I don't know.


The comic book store will hold letters for me.

Wherever they take you, keep checking there.

Why do we have to go all the way to Mexico to buy this stuff?

It isn't FDA approved.

What's it called?


What's it for?

All sorts of things.

You'll like these people.

She's an actress and he does something in television.

Do they have any kids?

No. They're looking to adopt.

She's had an incredibly hard time.

She's very smart, she's just missed a lot of school.


Look, you don't have to decide immediately.


Just talk to her, and if you're uncomfortable in any way, you just let me know.

There you are.

I'm really sorry that Mark couldn't be here to meet you, but he's filming in Nova Scotia, so...

Well, this is it!

I left it plain on purpose because I thought that way you could put your own things up.

I like the D rer watercolor.

You know who D rer is?

My mother is an artist.

Oh. That's right. Of course.

Of course, they said that.

Hey, listen, do you want some tea or something?

Or Pepsi. I bought Pepsi.

I mean, I didn't know what you'd drink.

Or we have juice.

I could make you a smoothie if you like.

Would you like a smoothie?

Tea is fine.

I walk, I walk, stop... look...

And now I die.

You're really good.

Do you know what a nightmare it is?

It's such a nightmare.

I mean, you spend all this time getting ready, ages, getting ready, drag yourself down to this audition so they can look at you for two seconds, and tell you that you're too ethnic, or too classic, too something.

Too ethnic? Mm-hm.

It means brunette.

And too classic means old.

And... too small?


Why do you do it then?

What do you mean?

Give up show business?

Come on!

Here. To your first run on the beach.

Well done. Never again.

How is your shoulder?

It's fine.

You did really well! Really, really well.

What was... the best day of your life?


What should we do later?

I don't know. What do you want to do?



Oh, my God!

He's back early!


You must be Astrid.

It took us three hours to get him back in there.

The whole film crew is gathered around.

He still almost chickens out.

I think he thought it was going to come back and try and finish him off.

What would you have done if it had?

I would have ducked.


Just right there.

Well, cheers.

Cheers. Cheers, Astrid.

We've got some catching up to do.

Claire tells me you're quite an artist.

Not really.

She's wonderful!

In fact, we went to see Trish, and she's accepted Astrid for one of her watercolor classes.

At the museum? Mm-hm. Yeah.

She loves Astrid's work.

You should show him!

They're really, really beautiful.

And she's never even studied.

She's completely self-taught.

Is that right? Mm-hm.

Is she all right?

I know you're perfect.

I'm not perfect.

Of course you are. You're my daughter.


Are you okay?

Yeah. Just thinking.

Are you getting my letters?


I can never be sure.

I get them.

Why doesn't she have any children?

She can't have them.

You dress like her now.

She takes me shopping.

What's her husband like?

He's nice.

He's gone a lot.

So you spend most of your time with Claire?


I'd like to meet her.


Because you don't want me to.

Who did this belong to?

That was my great aunt's, on my father's side.

She was a field nurse at Ypres.

Very, very brave woman.

It's pretty, isn't it?

And whose was this?

It was my mother's.

My father gave it to her.

My parents were completely inseparable.

Not at all like Mark and I.

I hate it when he has to go away for so long.

Why don't you go with him?

He says it slows him down.

I think it's because he's having an affair.

He wouldn't have an affair.

He loves you.

Yeah, I know.

If he did, I would never know about it.

You're just being paranoid.

Yeah, that's what he says.

I "can be very negative."

Should I put this here?

Yeah, perfect.

Everything ready inside?

You're leaving tomorrow?

Mm-hm. In the morning.

I bet Claire would love to go with you.

Coordinating our schedules is difficult.

She's not working, she could fit into yours.

What about you?

Doesn't she need to be here for you?


How is she these days, when I'm gone?

She okay?

She's fine.

Why do you ask?

No reason.

You're back early.

How long has my mother been writing you?

Oh... not long.

We've only written to each other a couple of times.

Why didn't you tell me?

Because she asked me not to.

She thought that you wouldn't like it.

Her letter was so powerful.

She's so strong.

And God, she's talented.

We'd like to meet.

Whose idea was that?


I bet.

I really love your work.

What have you seen?

Astrid showed me the collages you sent her and some of your earlier work in the catalogues.

Oh, I love the Polaroid installation.

Oh, really? Yeah.


Um, I don't know...

Well, because...

Because it's great!

I'm actually very visual myself.

Kindred spirit.

Must be difficult for you to work here.

Oh, it is.

I spend so much time fighting off sexual advances, I hardly have time to think.

That was a joke.


Jailbird humor is hard to get sometimes.


So... an actress?

So glamorous!

No. My career is a disaster.

I think it's the process.

It may be too painful for me.

You're such a sensitive person.

All that rejection.

It's got to be hard on your self-esteem.

I'm a typical Pisces.

But that's why Astrid and I get on so well.

Scorpio and Pisces understand each other.

You're into astrology?

She's not into astrology just because she knows our signs.

Astrid and I used to understand each other... but she's become so secretive.

Astrid isn't secretive at all!

No, we talk about everything, all the time.

We just love her.

She's doing so well.

She's on the honor roll, and we're just working to keep that old grade point average up.

Why don't you put a pyramid over her desk?

They say it improves memory.

My memory is fine.

Pyramid. I hadn't thought of that.

I do practice Feng Shui, though.

You never mentioned that in your letters.

How about your husband?

Is he into Feng Shui as well?

No, he's into frequent flyer miles.

He's gone half the time.

That's not so bad, you know?

And now that I have Astrid...

She must be a great comfort to you, not being able to have children of your own.


She is.

Would you mind letting us talk alone, sweetie?

They're grown-up things.

Don't we have to go?

No, it's okay.

We have time.

Love humiliates you.

Hatred cradles you.

It's soothing.

What did you say to her?

She's having trouble with her husband.

It's not you, is it?

I know you have an attraction for older men.

No, it's not me.

You leave her alone.

Oh, but it's such fun.

Easy, but fun.

And in my present situation, I have to get my fun where I can.

God, how can you stand to live with poor Claire?

Did you know there's an entire order called the Poor Claires?

She is a genuinely nice person.

You don't know what it's been like.

If you love me, you'll help me.

Help you?

I would rather see you in the worst kind of foster hell than living with that woman.

What can you possibly learn from her?

How to pine artistically?

27 names for tears?

All I can say is... keep your bags packed.

I feel like a stranger in my own goddamn house.

I feel like you two live here, and I'm allowed to stay here once in a while.

Maybe if you gave a little bit!

Again! "Why can't I give more? "Why can't I talk more?"

"Why can't I be here more?"

Because I work! Because I have a job.

That's not fair.

I give you everything that you ask for, and still it's not enough.

No, not everything. Not everything.

You promised, if we got another kid, things would change.

Mark, I'm trying, you know I'm trying.

Trying is not good enough.

You are falling apart again.

We are right back to where we started.

Yes we are. It is not working out, and I think we should send her back.

You can't just send her back.

Where's she going to go?

They'll find some place for her.

I can't believe it. You're just going to send her away?

You take everything away, don't you?

You just leave me here with nothing.

Jesus Christ, you are such a bad actress.

I really almost forgot.

Okay, okay.

I'll do what you say. I'll send her back.

Okay? We can try that.

Just don't go, okay?

Just don't leave me.

Unlike you, Claire, I work, remember?

Mm-hm. And... is she going with you, your girlfriend?

I've had it with this, Claire.

I've really had it.



Astrid, please.


Are you awake?

I'm sorry.

Are you all right?


Take my advice.

Stay away from broken people.

You can't send me back.

He's not coming back, Astrid.

He's going to divorce me.

You know, Claire... it wouldn't be the worst thing.

I'm cold.


Get in here with me.

Come on.

Stay with me, okay?

Stay with me, please.




Claire... Claire!

Claire, wake up!

Claire, please!



Claire, please!



What is it?

I'm back in Mac. Didn't they tell you?


Claire is dead.

She killed herself.

I'm sorry.

No, you're not.

You poisoned her, too, only this time you used words.

I told her what she already knew.

You were just jealous.

Of course I was jealous.

I live in a cell with a woman who has a vocabulary of 25 words.

Why do you think they got you, Astrid?

To create a perfect little family?

People get babies for that.

Not teenagers recovering from bullet wounds.

You were on suicide watch.

And don't think this was the first time she tried it, either.

It's just the first time she pulled it off.

I'm not coming back.

I wanted to tell you that in person.

I'm going to leave you in here, alone.

I know you think I'm cruel.

I'm only trying to protect you from those people.

Those people are not the enemy, Mother.

We are.

You and me.

They don't hurt us. We hurt them.

You still ignoring me?

I turn 18 Saturday.

I'm going to New York.

I want you to come with me.

I can't.

Sure you can. Just leave.

Is it your mother?

Come on.

I'll get a job.

We'll find a place to live.

We'll be like we always talked about.

I don't want to go to New York.

I don't want to be with you.

She was with us for three years, but her birth parents took her back.

We think you'd really like it with us, Astrid.

There are kids your age in our neighborhood.

Excuse me.

Don't worry about it.

She's had a very hard time recently.

Let me just talk to her, okay?

So, what's wrong this time?

I'm too old for them.

Look, the Greenways are great.

They've been doing this for years.

They've got a nice house with an extra bedroom for you.

They go to church.

Schools are good.

They don't smoke.

He makes his own beer.

I want her.

Workers of the world, arise.

You've got nothing to lose but VISA card, Happy Meal, and Kotex with wings.

Christ, Thursday.

You, lazy bones. You want smoke?

I quit for the baby, Rena.

Why? You don't keep it, thank God.

You, cheerleader. You want smoke?

Russian cigarettes. No cancer.


Really nice. It was never worn.

What is this made of?

I don't know.

Why don't you just try it on and see how it looks?


That's my dress.

These are all mine.

So? You get good price for them.

What do you need expensive clothes for, huh?

Maybe Melrose Place call you to be a star.

Someone gave them to me.

Even better. All profit.

That's why I love this country.

Because it loves money like I love money.

Hey. You make a price, I take 25%.


What, you think you're going to sell it all by yourself on the street corner?

I pay for stall, storage, gas.

They pay you, you pay me.

You still make profit.

Dead person who give you thing don't care.

The past is gone.

Sentimental is stupid.

It's smart to make money.

There's no price.

How about 20 dollars?

It's a Marc Jacobs dress.

It's only been worn once.



Thank you.

How was last night?

It was fun.

What did you do?

Watched TV.

You know who I saw? I saw Dan.

Don't you think Astrid would like him?


I'm Hannah.

This is Julie.

We went to your house, but the Russian lady said you'd be here, so...

We visit your mother.

She's our project in Women's Studies.

What does she want?

Oh, no, she didn't send us.

We came on our own.

She asked us to mail you a copy of the interview.

Her show at Bergamot?

But then we thought that we could deliver it ourselves...

Is that it?


What do you talk about?

All kinds of things.

Art, music...

She talks about you.


What does she say?

That you're in a...

You know, fostered.

Look, she feels really terrible about what's happened.

So you thought you'd come out and what?

Adopt me?

You don't think she killed him, do you?

Something you should know.

She did.

I was there.

Oleander is poisonous.

I don't know why people grow it.

Open the door!

They can't keep me!

I'll be back in an hour!

Who is that?

I don't know.

You draw her all the time.

I think her name was Annie.

She's someone I remember.

I don't know who she was.

Check it out, you guys.

Rodeo Drive refugee.

Excuse me. Are you Rena Gruschenko?


If you come from I.N.S., I have a green card.

I've been all over this junkyard looking for you.

You must be Astrid.

I'm Susan Valeris, your mother's lawyer?


Don't know why I never got around to quitting.

I do. All the prisoners smoke.

You can offer them one.

Your mother is very proud of you for not quitting school.

You graduate soon, don't you?

Are you making any plans for your future?


I thought I'd be a criminal lawyer.


Either that, or a hooker, or a garbage collector.

Your mother said you'd be difficult.

Mother knows best.

I know you've been through a terrible ordeal.

Three foster homes in three years, a shooting, the suicide of a foster mother.

I understand you were very close.

Did you ask your client about her involvement with that?

You can't possibly blame her for the death of a woman she only met once.

But I do blame her, Susan.

That's pretty cynical, Astrid.

You want me to lie for her in court, is that it?

Why do you hate her, Astrid?

Is it because you think she committed murder?

Or because you feel abandoned?

Talk to her.

People do change.

You should hear the way she talks about you.

She worries about you.

She asked me to find out if there's anything you need.

Money for college?


There's money behind her.

Just tell me what you want.

You are stupid girl.

You walk away from money to punish mother.

You want car?

You want art college?

All costs money.

You don't know anything about this, Rena, so just stay out of it.

I have plan for you, anyway.

Oh, yeah? What's that?

Niki leave soon.

And Yvonne is stupid girl.

Making third baby.

Every time she look at the window to see baby's face, baby gone, then she cries like it's a big surprise.

But you... you're a special girl.

You stay...

I make you partner.

Stay here?

You got better place to go?

Then go see mother.

She needs something from you, you need something from her.

Go get it.

Here she comes.

Astrid, my God.

What's wrong, Mom?

You don't like my outfit?

I'll leave you two alone for a while.

So what's the story?

We didn't go to Mexico to buy DMSO?

Barry beat you?

He raped me?

How bad does he have to be to get you out of jail?

I can't believe what's happened to you.

When I get out, I'll make it up to you.

Who said you're getting out?

I said I'd talk to you.

I didn't say I'd do it.

Then what do you want?

I have a deal to make.

A trade.

You tell me the truth...

I'll lie for you in court.

The truth about what?

Everything you kept from me.

And if I don't?

Then you can rot in here.

I hate this look, by the way.

You're a Sunset Boulevard motel, a $20 hooker in the back of a car.

Why did you murder Barry?

If I submit to this, you'll testify?


Self-defense. He was killing me.

Claire didn't do anything to you.

Why did you go after her?

Claire went after herself.

I just showed her how to do it.

Who was my father?

Your father? Why do you always ask that?

It's ancient history.

It's my ancient history. Who was he?

His name was Klaus Anders.

What did he do?

He was an artist.

How did you meet?

At Venice Beach at a party.

He had the drugs.

Did you love him?

It was a long time ago.

I'm not the same person.

Liar. You're exactly the same.

Answer the question.

You're such a child.

You've taken my propaganda for truth.

So set me straight.

Did you love him?

We had a very sexual relationship.

One overlooks many things.

You worshipped him.

I read it in your journal.

"Worship" isn't exactly the word we're looking for here.

Who was Annie?


Who was Annie, Mother?

She was a neighbor who took in kids, did people's laundry.

What did she look like?

Dark, curly hair, freckles.

Did she take care of me?

How could you possibly have remembered this?

It will only hurt you.

Imagine my life for a moment... how unprepared I was to be the mother of a small child.

I was used to having time to think, and you just wanted, wanted, wanted.

I felt like a hostage.

Can you understand how desperate I was?

I dropped you off at her house one afternoon to go to the beach with some friends.

And one thing led to another.

They had a place in Ensenada.

It was wonderful.

You can't imagine...

To take a nap in the afternoon... to make love all day if I wanted and not have to think, "What's Astrid doing?

Where's Astrid?"

"Mommy, Mommy, Mommy," clinging to me like a spider.

At the end of it, I just wanted to throw you against a wall.

How long were you gone?

About a year.

Give or take a few months.

My God.

But you're not asking the right question.

Don't ask me why I left.

Ask me why I came back.

You should have been sterilized.

I could have left you there, but I didn't.

Don't you understand?

For once, I did the right thing.

When I came back, you knew me.

You were sitting by the door, and you looked up... and you reached for me.

It was as if you had been waiting for me all along.

I was always waiting for you, Mother.

That's the constant in my life. Waiting for you.

Will you come back?

Will you forget you tied me up in front of the store or left me on a bus?

Are you still waiting?


I stopped when Claire showed me what it felt like to be loved.

What did you think?

That I would amuse you?

That's what babies are like, Mother.

What did you think?

That we'd exchange thoughts on Joseph Brodsky?

I thought Klaus and I would live happily ever after.

Adam and Eve in a vine-covered shack.

I must have been out of my mind.

You were in love with him.

Yes, I was in love with him, all right?

I was in love with him, "baby makes three" and all that crap.

Then why did you leave him?

Why did you leave him? I didn't leave him.

He left me.

You want to know about your father?

He left us when you were six months old for another woman.

I never saw him again until he showed up looking for you when you were 8 years old.

He came to see me?

Yes, he came to see you, but it was a little late, wasn't it?

Why should I let him see you after what he did to me?

Because it wasn't about you!

It was about me, and I wanted to see him!

My whole life, I've wanted to see him.

That decision was mine, not yours!

Everything has always been about you, never about me.

I knew you were going to kill Barry, but you didn't even care.

You didn't give a damn about what that would do to me.

I'll say whatever Susan wants me to say, but I've got to get out of here.

No. You don't just walk away from me.

I made you.

I'm in your blood.

You don't go anywhere until I let you go.

Then let me go.

You look at me... and you don't like what you see.

But this is the price, Mother. The price of belonging to you.

If I could, I'd take it all back.

I would.

Then tell me you don't want me to testify.

Tell me you don't want me like this.

Tell me you would sacrifice the rest of your life to have me back the way I was.

Listen, forget it. A deal's a deal.

Let's leave it at that.

Excuse me.

It's probably a waste of time, but...

I'm looking for someone who used to come in here?

His name is Paul Trout.

You Astrid?


He said you'd turn up.


What's going on?

I don't know.

Excuse me. Is it a recess?

No. Jury's out.

Don't you need me to testify?

Your mother told me to leave you alone.

What happened?

She let me go.

- Two years after Paul and I - moved to New York, I received a letter from my mother.

In it was a copy of the Los Angeles Times Magazine, my mother on the cover.

A Santa Monica gallery had mounted a showing of her work.

The Times included seven pages of her hauntingly distant prison collages.

She stares out from the cover... the bars of her cell behind her.




The Times said her lawyer was close to winning a retrial after a first failed appeal.

They called her show a triumph.

It's too much to imagine her tempering her joy with a moment of grief... a moment for what that triumph had cost.

These suitcases are a map of that country... a terrible country I will never revisit.

Even so, I find myself thinking of her, wanting to feel that wind.

It's a secret wanting... like a song I can't stop humming, or loving someone you can never have.

No matter how much she's damaged me...

no matter how flawed she is...

I know my mother loves me.

♪ ♪