A dramatic thriller about Diana, a suburban wife and mother who begins to question her seemingly perfect life--and perhaps her sanity--on the 15th anniversary of a tragic high school shooting. In flashbacks, Diana is a vibrant high schooler who, with her shy best friend Maureen, plot typical teenage strategies--cutting class,fantasizing about boys--and vow to leave their sleepy suburb at the first opportunity. The older Diana, however, is haunted by the increasingly strained relationship she had with Maureen as day of the school shooting approached. These memories disrupt the idyllic life she's now leading with her professor husband Paul and their young daughter Emma. As older Diana's life begins to unravel and younger Diana gets closer and closer to the fatal day, a deeper mystery slowly unravels. Written by
Although the location in which the film takes place is never identified, the cars have Connecticut license plates. See more »
[first lines - smoking in the locker room]
That old bitch! I'm serious, if I have to jump over another pummel horse, or whatever they're called.
You guys should probably put that out.
Shrankins is like 5 feet behind me.
See more »
Vadim Perelman's 'The Life Before Her Eyes' is just as powerful but equally complex as his harrowing 'The House of Sand and Fog'. This movie is just as engaging and at times, also confusing. Perelman uses fascinating visuals. The film opens with a montage of various beautiful flowers (that have a symbolic definition) and then follows two girls to a highschool bathroom. The shootout scene takes place only within the bathroom while we hear gunfire in the background but for me this movie has achieved in that first sequence what the pretentious 'Elephant' didn't (which was also about a highschool shootout). While the focus is on the two girls, you literally see the fear in their eyes as their 'nice' day is interrupted and their lives are threatened.
On the technical side, it is a very well crafted film. The cinematography, the music, the sets and editing are all top notch. The visuals are detailed and pretty much every frame has something to say.
The ending is different from that of the book but I think both of them rise the same question. What would have you done if you were in Diana's shoes? The question isn't easy to answer because you never actually know unless you are facing such circumstance. That is the test of one's courage. Emil Stern's screenplay is dazzling. The story doesn't follow a linear structure but there's a reason for that. Dialogues are laden with interesting philosophy. Perelman beautifully tackles numerous themes such as friendship, post-traumatic stress, motherhood and abortion among others.
The cast features three powerful performances: by Uma Thurman, Evan Rachel Wood and Eva Amurri. Thurman's portrayal of Diana's complexity, devotion to her family and inability to cope with her past is spot on. Wood and Amurri deliver very natural performances as two girls going through the usual teen problems but dealing with it differently because 'one has what the other doesn't' and that way they help each other. Their on screen friendship is very convincing hinting that they might actually be good friends in real life. Then there's the bathroom scene which could have easily gone wrong had it been played by lesser actresses but this is one of the most powerful scenes in a movie of recent time and one only has to watch it to understand its impact.
'The Life Before Her Eyes' is not an easy film to follow and those who are looking for something simple or light may feel let down but on the other hand it's a very strong movie. Perelman has hit the mark again just like he did with 'The House of Sand and Fog'. He seems to be intrigued by tragic stories and bringing them on screen. He does one hell of a job, again.
16 of 23 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?