Imaginative, impetuous and wild Diana (Evan Rachel Wood) can t wait for her adult life to begin. Diana test her limits as her more conservative friend Maureen (Eva Amurri) watches with concern. But Diana s aura of invincib... more »ility is shattered when a moment of life and death decision-making forever changes the lives of the two best friends.« less
D. Hupp | Woodbridge, VA United States | 08/25/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"One of the most thought-provoking dramatic thrillers I've seen in a long time. The acting by the entire cast was stellar, with Thurman, Wood and Amurri giving powerful performances. This is a movie that will keep you guessing and engaged until the final credits roll. You'll find "gems" in it upon repeated viewings too.
While other reviewers mention details of the film, I think that more enjoyment can be derived from knowing little or nothing about the story before watching the movie. ONLY after viewing it, I highly recommend the BEHIND THE SCENES feature, which is nearly 55 minutes long and goes into enjoyable details of the production, characters, story, and cast. That feature clearly WARNS viewers that it is a SPOILER feature and should be watched after seeing the movie. My hat is off to whoever put that warning there. I think it's especially warranted for this film."
A Surreal Portrait . . .
Laurel-Rain Snow "Rain" | Fresno, California | 09/22/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Life Before Her Eyes is a chilling portrait of a high school student gone mad, leaving devastation in his wake.
Evan Rachel Wood portrays Diana, a wild girl who relishes using bad language and meting out her own brand of justice, while her best friend Maureen, played by Eva Amurri, serves as the moral compass. While blithely enjoying their day, the two hole up in the school bathroom, chatting and fixing their makeup -- and then shots ring out.
From this point forward, the movie plays out in a series of flash-forward, flashback vignettes -- we see the two girls swimming, diving, hanging out; and then we see the adult version of Diana, taking her daughter Emma to school, glancing nervously at a sign over the local high school announcing a 15-year memorial of the tragedy -- a haunting day when a boy fired into a school, destroying lives.
Several versions of the teenage girls' final moments are played out, with the killer asking them to choose which one will die.
What seems like a normal life for the adult version of Diana soon has us asking several questions: Which girl actually died on that fateful day? What constitutes reality and what is actually fantasy? Is everything only a flashing of "life before her eyes" and is nothing real at all?
The viewer must decide the answers to these questions. But no matter what conclusions you reach, this movie will haunt you for some time to come.
Time Stops with Trauma: Flashbacks and Flash Forwards
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 08/24/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Laura Kasischke's intelligent novel 'The Life Before Her Eyes' has been brilliantly adapted for the screen by Emil Stern, and with the skills of director Vadim Perelman, this underrated movie in the theaters may find a wider appreciative audience in this DVD format. It is a film that challenges the viewer to think, to piece together the evidence, and to come to personal conclusions about the meaning of the story.
Diana (Evan Rachel Wood in an outstanding performance) is a 'loose girl' in her highschool who happens to be best friends with her total opposite, the moralistic virgin Maureen (Eva Amurri). While sharing thoughts and gossip in the school's bathroom they hear gunshots and rapidly become victims of a wild student's killing spree, terrorizing the school. The killer enters the bathroom, asks the girls to decide which one of the two will volunteer to die, gunshots blaze and we see Diana lying on the floor of the bathroom while Maureen shrinks beneath the sinks: the last gunshots are apparently the killer committing suicide.
Flash forward 15 years and Diana (Uma Thurman) is the beautiful wife of a professor (Sherman Alpert), an art history teacher, and mother of young Emma (Gabrielle Brennan). There is something not quite real about the atmosphere: Diana lives in fear and grief (?Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome?) and despite her 'perfect' surroundings, she is ridden with anxiety. When asked by a friend if she is going to attend the 15 year Memorial for the school shooting event Diana says she hasn't decided. What follows is a series of flashbacks allowing us to fully understand the young Diana's motivations and impulsive behavior and her close relationship with Maureen before the tragedy changed their lives. But gaping holes in the history of the event and the subsequent years ultimately force the viewer to decide what actually happened in the past: are we witnessing reality or imagined dreams - and it is left to every viewer to decide the facts of the story for themselves.
Uma Thurman is brilliant in this challenging role and Evan Rachel Wood is equally stunning as the younger version of Thurman's role. The entire cast contributes an ensemble performance that keeps us involved in this thriller from opening frame to closing credits. Vadim Perelman's approach to the story offers subtle, visually magnificent images that provide clues throughout the film about the division between real and imagined. This is a fine film on every level. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, August 08"
Haunting and Orignal, An Overlook Gem of a Film
Melanie Edwards | Commerce, MI | 08/31/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"From the very first images of the bright, pastel flowers, accomponied by the haunting music in the background, the shots of a school, a statue, birds flying, from those first moments of the movie you are completley entranced and swept into a story about the choices we make and the effects it has on us.
The Life Before Her Eyes tells the story of young Diana, a reckless, wild teenager who seems to not have a care in the world and her best friend Maureen, a timid, religious girl who instantly bonds with the wild child one day at school and they became strong friends. Then one day, while in the bathroom at school, a student comes with a loaded gun and begans to shoot down students before making his way into the bathroom and holds the gun to them saying "which one of you is going to die?". Fast forward and Diana is now a mother and wife, who finds her life beginning to steadily break down on the fiftenth aniversary of the shooting, where her actions in the past come back to haunt her.
The film, like Atonement, makes use of the surreal imagery, the director bathing everything in soft sunlight, giving it an almost dream like quality to it all, letting ordinary things like water, food, buildings, flags, everything just come alive, making every detail almost as important as the characters. Uma Thurman and Evan Rachel Wood are both superb in the roles of Diana and Eva Amurri is another standout as the best friend.
The pacing of the film goes by at a brisk but not rush paced, giving just enough time for every character to grow and develop, which all leads up to such an ending that it demands an instant reveiwing of the film, where you begin to notice even more things you might have missed in the first and finding out the little hints that may indicate to what may happen.
By far one of the most overlooked films of 2007, this is a true art of a film that will leave you breathless by the very end."
Otis B. Driftwood | 08/30/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"i love movies that get better the more you watch them and this is one of them. my high hopes for this were not let down at all. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
as other reviewers said, i recommend going into this knowing as little as possible... and do not listen to anyone that says this movie is boring. i know it's not going to be everyones type of movie but it is very rewarding once you understand it. "