Tonight I saw a screening of The Life Before Her Eyes, starring Uma Thurman and Evan Rachel Wood.
If you could see your future life before your eyes, would it change how you live and love in the present?
At the root of this story, that's what's being asked of the audience.
We see a rebellious teenage Diana (Wood) bored with classes, free with sex and cold to her mother. When a Columbine-like shooting happens at her high school, and the killer is a boy who told her the previous day he was going to do it, we're forced to watch Diana and her best friend lobby for their lives. The scenes (some may call flashbacks; others may not) are brutally tension-filled and well-acted, which makes them incredibly hard to repeatedly sit through.
In parallel frames of the film, we see a thirtysomething Diana, now played by Thurman, in an unstable marriage with a bratty daughter of her own. She's struggling to get through the anniversary of the massacre and live her life in a meaningful way despite its dysfunctions.
The hard-to-believe part of the film was the fact Diana became a teacher. If I were the victim of a school shooting, the last place I'd probably want to spend every day would be at a school.
That said, the character in question and all of her actions are completely up for interpretation, so that last paragraph there could be erased, depending on how you digest one of the twists.
Regardless of where you think the story goes or went, no one can argue that the two leads aren't superb. Wood is an actress so gifted, her eyes convey her character's intentions and her body and words simply follow; Thurman brings a maturity I've never seen from her to the role, portraying 'damaged' in a painfully authentic and vulnerable way.
I would recommend this film as food for thought, if nothing else. And those of you who have seen it—I'd love to debate the ending with you.
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your theories...