The Life Before Her Eyes: A Review



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This past weekend I went to the Sundance Theatre in Madison, WI and experienced a movie which…well… knocked me on my butt (for lack of a better explanation).  Before entering the fancy, upscale theatre, I knew nothing about the film I was about to watch. I had not seen a trailer or read even a single a word about The Life Before Her Eyes.  A movie directed by Vadim Perelman and starring Uma Thurman, Evan Rachel Wood and Eva Amurri was indeed about to surprise and envelop me in a way I have not savored in quite some time. 


This will not be an easy review to write as I almost want others to go into it with the same blindness and blank slate which I possessed.  I think that the lack of expectations or predictions really helped put it on an entirely different level for me. But alas, this is indeed a review – and review I shall.  However, I will certainly do my best to keep spoilers at bay.


The Life Before Her Eyes was not only gorgeous and gripping visually with stellar artistic direction and cinematography, but was also soulfully beautiful.  The writing was kept so familiar and recognizable. The acting was subtle and appropriate. I cannot think of a single complaint and I assure you, I will be seeing this film again and for more reasons than those I stated above. You will realize those reasons after watching it yourself.


As the film begins, we quickly recognize that Uma Thurman’s character, Diana, is a 30-something married woman living the would-be storybook life as a mother and an Art History Teacher in the town where she grew up. We also learn that in her senior year of high school she experiences a horrifying and gruesome school shooting. Throughout the movie we witness the tragic heartache of this woman dealing with a great amount of survivor’s guilt and post traumatic stress disorder – which Thurman portrayed authentically.


The story does go back and forth from “past” to “present” every few minutes and typically I would find this far too distracting and annoying. But Perelman succeeds at making these transitions very smooth and beautiful and at just the most perfect moments.  The use of flashbacks and metaphors are a true gift the Director gives to the audience.  He lets us think. And it was not condescending to the viewer in the least.  We are given images and allowed to see their meaning for ourselves.


In the “past” visions, we see a rebellious Diana who smokes, has sex and smarts off whenever she gets the chance. We are also introduced to her best friend, Maureen, played by Eva Amurri.  There friendship is one many girls can familiarize with – and the ones that can’t, wish they could. As different as Diana and church-going Maureen are – they are connected by the hip throughout the flashbacks…and forever by the heart. 


Diana is a complicated mess of a teen who desperately needed the support and balance Maureen could provide.  And as we see teenage Diana unravel, grown up Diana begins to fade into a similar emotional tunnel.  And soon it is evident that the movie all comes down to a choice. A choice made by teenage Diana during that fateful day of the shooting.  How does that choice affect her future? How does it affect Maureen’s? The whole concept of “Wings of a butterfly…” has been done before, sure.  But never in such a moving, gut wrenching and so strangely real way.


I used all of my tissue before the end of the movie.  And this ending was one that not only dropped my jaw, but also had me using my sleeve as a Kleenex substitution.  After sitting in the theatre regaining my composure and catching my breath, I was left in a very contemplative and thoughtful zone.  I still cannot seem to get the movie out of my head, days later. If that is not a sign of a good flick, then I do not know what is.


About Heather Rayne

I am a mom, wife, writer, volunteer, eater of food, lover of animals and avid TV enthusiast. I am opinionated, honest, compassionate and sensitive. I can also be difficult, hard headed and emotional. I consider myself to have a great sense of humor and am very attracted to that in others. I am striving to live an authentic life. I am attempting to learn how to find happiness in the now. I always have hope to be a better person. That being said - I can be vulgar, negative and even a little bitchy at times. I say what I mean and my filter is often dysfunctional. With me, what you see is what you get. I have strong opinions and am quick to speak my mind. This can cause problems from time to time but I do not ever intend to hurt or offend anyone. With that - be warned. I do hope you enjoy my site. Thanks for visiting and have a swell day.

3 responses »

  1. Pingback: The Life Before Her Eyes – An Analysis (MAJOR SPOILERS) « Ramblings of a Neurotic Housewife

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