A psychological drama cum mystery thriller, The Life Before Her Eyes opens in a Connecticut high school on the day of a Columbine-style high-school massacre. In the midst of the shooting spree, best friends Diana McFee (Evan Rachel Wood) and Maureen (Eva Amurri, daughter of Susan Sarandon) find themselves cornered in the girls’ bathroom by the teenage gunman, who offers them a stark choice for survival… Fifteen years later, Diana (now played by Uma Thurman) leads a seemingly idyllic life as a wife and mother, but she remains haunted by that tragic day.
Based on the novel by Laura Kasischke, The Life Before Her Eyes loops back over and over to those moments in the school bathroom, each time revealing a little more of what happens. In between, director Vadim Perelman piles on the symbolic imagery (water, lots of it) and portentous foreshadowing. Some viewers will find the film’s dreamlike mood overly arty and precious, and some may find the friendship between stroppy rebel Diana and goody-two-shoes Maureen implausible, but I found the depiction of lives held in the balance on the cusp of adulthood unexpectedly moving.
Released on 10th August.