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The Life Before Her Eyes - Review

The Life Before Her Eyes

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2.5 out of 5

VADIM Perelman’s The Life Before Her Eyes opens in provocative fashion, with a High School shooting that’s all too close to real-life headlines.

But while it succeeds in grabbing your attention, the ensuing film is an oddly unsatisfying experience that gets bogged down in ambiguous ideas and pretentious direction.

As a young woman, Diana (Evan Rachel Wood) experiments with all that life has to offer until the day that she and her best friend Maureen are caught in the middle of a massacre at their High School. Diana survives, but Maureen doesn’t.

Years later, as the 20th anniversary of that incident approaches, Diana (now played by Uma Thurman) attempts to come to terms with the guilt she still feels from the day, while pressing on with her own life as a mother and wife.

Perelman, who previously directed The House of Sand & Fog, offers plenty of intriguing ideas and draws strong performances from both Wood and Thurman, but struggles to engage on an emotional level.

His direction often feels heavy-handed and pretentious, with frequent shots of nature undermining the flow of the story. While the inevitable twist is obvious from a long way off.

Even more concerning is the way he opts to linger a little too long on the aftermath of the massacre, giving rise to the suspicion that he is turning the tragedy into art.

Thurman and Wood emerge with their reputations intact, however, and the film isn’t without its thought-provoking moments. But given the provocative nature of its subject matter, it’s a tragedy that The Life Before Her Eyes doesn’t make you care more while it lasts, or remember it for very long afterwards.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 90mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: August 10, 2009