The Life Before Her Eyes (Sony, 2007) D: Vadim Perelman, w/ Uma Thurman, Evan Rachel Wood. Rating: NNN; DVD package: NNNN
This is the sort of movie in which Uma Thurman excels. With her loose-jointed frame and open face, she's far more convincing as the average American woman than as a sword-swinging assassin, and as an actor, she's far better at conveying naturalistic emotion than comic book heroics.
Diana McFee is a woman crushed by guilt. Fifteen years ago she was involved in a horrible school shooting, and the memories are driving her mad.
Evan Rachel Wood plays Diana at 17, before and during the shooting. She's good as a girl in the middle of working out what kind of woman she wants to be, and her extensive scenes with Eva Amurri as best friend Maureen are a treat to watch. Trouble is, they stop the drama dead.
We keep coming back to the shooting scene. It's very tense, and so is the adult Diana, who's headed for a meltdown. The teen Diana just gets in the way, and nothing she does appears to be contributing to the overall story.
In fact she's important, but we don't find that out till the end. Same goes for some of director Vadim Perelman's precious imagery. Do we really need those bugs and flowers? Turns out we do, but again, we don't know why till the end.
The 55-minute making-of doc goes into both those points and does a great job on the visual style and intricacies of the all-important bathroom set. Thurman has some thoughtful things to say about the climax.
EXTRAS Making-of doc. Widescreen.