Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Life Before Her Eyes: Grade D

The Life Before Her Eyes (2008)
Uma Thurman, Evan Rachel Wood, Eva Amurri. Director Vadim Perelman.

Wood is a high school student who, with her friend Amurri, narrowly survives one of those depressingly common school shootups by a nutcase student. The experience colors the rest of her life. Thurman is the anxiety-ridden adult who can’t get over the event, especially at the (unlikely) 15th anniversary memorial service for it in the small town where, unlikely though it seems, she still lives, near her high school friend, with her husband and daughter. She seems to have PTSD symptoms but mainly she suffers (and so do we) from incessant flashbacks to the traumatic event. Scenes from her youth are repeated multiple times with hardly any variation. I understand what flashbacks are without seeing identical film clips repeated every few minutes. Okay, so it was traumatic. How about a therapist? There is no forward movement to the story and no character development. Absolutely nothing happens. Thurman just has flashbacks and panic attacks for 90 minutes. We do not even get to see the resolution of the traumatic incident. Was the shooter captured? How did Wood and her friend manage to escape unharmed? Nothing is revealed. Perhaps the filmmaker wanted us to feel what it is like to suffer from ongoing PTSD, but if so, the effort was lost on me. Redeeming virtues are that Thurman and Wood are fine actors, always enjoyable to watch. The relatively unknown Amurri also does a very good job in drawing a character contrast to Wood.

1 comment:

  1. I had great hopes for this movie. I have great hopes for anything with Evan Rachel Wood, but apparently this one is worth skipping.