Skip to main content

The Life Before Her Eyes

Finding the right words to describe The Life Before Her Eyes is tough. Say too much and you risk giving everything away. Even attempting to pin the film down too firmly in one particular genre may be a spoiler. Suffice to say that it’s a psychological drama cum mystery thriller that revolves around the fall out from a Columbine-style high-school massacre.

This shooting spree takes place in a Connecticut school. In the midst of it, 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, but I was moved by its depiction of lives held in the balance on the cusp of adulthood.

General release from 27th March

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.