The Life Before Her Eyes

Uma Thurman certainly knows how to pick some stinkers. As well as appearing in the worst film of 1997 (Batman & Robin) and the worst of 1998 (The Avengers) she has also graced the woebegone Paycheck, Be Cool, The Accidental Husband and My Super Ex-Girlfriend among others. Her latest effort is nowhere near as awful as those but it still a considerable disappointment, especially as it's helmed by director Perelman who scored a bullseye with the powerful and superbly performed House of Sand and Fog.

Thurman plays Diana, a troubled wife and mother.15 years previously she was a teenager at school when a classmate took a gun and shot and killed many pupils and staff at the education establishment. She was aware of her friend's plan but didn't take his words seriously. Since then she has been wrestling with her conscience. On the week when the 15th anniversary of the tragedy is commemorated, her memories of the event come to the fore making her enormously distressed, especially in relation to her young daughter and husband. Wood plays the character when there are flashbacks to her younger self, and it is she who gives the movie its heart. Wood is convincingly vulnerable when going through the pangs of adolsescence, rebelling against her school, taking drugs and losing her virginity. Her prickly friendship with best friend Maureen (Amurri) is natural and believable.

It's a compelling subject but the film isn't as absorbing as it should be.The cross-cutting between the lead character's younger and older selves doesn't really grip and the dialogue is banal and cliched at times. Furthermore, it ends with a twist that is more annoying than surprising or satisfying. Overall a noble attempt, but one that sadly misses the mark.

Official Site
The Life Before Her Eyes at IMDb

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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