out of Five
Running time: 90
Poorly conceived, badly written and ultimately ridiculous drama with a jaw-droppingly crass twist ending that backfires horribly.
What's it all about?
Directed by Vadim Perelman, The Life Before Her Eyes stars Uma Thurman as Diana, a suburban wife and mother with a seemingly perfect life who's haunted by survivor's guilt after a Columbine-style high school massacre 15 years previously. On the anniversary of the tragedy, Diana's life begins to unravel as she thinks back to that fateful day when the killer (John Magaro) confronted her (Evan Rachel Wood) and her best friend Maureen (Eva Amurri) in the school bathroom.
Meanwhile, Diana also flashes back to the events leading up to the shooting, in which she and Maureen skip school, fantasise about their futures and have various encounters with boys. But is everything as it seems?
There's so much that's wrong with this film that it's difficult to know where to begin. For one thing, the 15 year anniversary makes no sense – why is Diana only now suffering from survivor's guilt? Similarly, it's hard to feel sorry for Diana, given her loving husband (Brett Cullen) and adorable daughter (Gabrielle Brennan), not to mention the fact that she was a pretty obnoxious teenager.
Thurman's performance doesn't help much either - Diana is irritating enough as it is without Thurman making it worse by being all weepy and willowy in every scene. Having said that, Eva Amurri (Susan Sarandon's daughter) is rather wonderful as Maureen, but her performance isn't enough to save the film.
However, the film's biggest problem is one of those ridiculous twist endings that thinks it's being oh-so-clever but is actually both stupid and annoying. In fact, it's even more annoying if you figure it out halfway through, because then you spend the whole film praying you'll be proved wrong. In addition, the school shooting set-up seems remarkably crass and ends up leaving a bad taste in the mouth.
The Life Before Her Eyes is something of a disaster, thanks to a poorly conceived script and a badly misjudged ending. One to avoid.
The Life Before Her Eyes (15)