Box art for The Life Before Her Eyes

The Life Before Her Eyes

  • Rated R

independent, special interest

An intense & visually evocative drama about the loss of youth, investigating how a single moment in time can define an entire life. Based on Laura Kasischke's visionary novel, the story hinges on a pivotal decision: who will live and who will die.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

PAUSE for kids age 16
5 out of 5
0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Positive messages
0 out of 5
3 out of 5

Disturbing school-shooting drama is a puzzler.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that this R-rated drama, which may interest teens thanks to starlets Evan Rachel Wood and Eva Amurri, explores dark, disturbing themes. The story revolves around a woman still haunted by a mass shooting at her high school; scenes from the tragedy are shown repeatedly, with plenty of blood and gore and very realistic scenes of the teen gunman shooting at victims. A teen gets an abortion, and there's also a fair amount of swearing, some suggestive scenes (one involving a couple in a swimming pool), and some underage drinking and smoking.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about the movie's sensitive subject matter. Why do you think filmmakers wanted to make a film about a school shooting? Do you think they intended for teens to see it? If so, what messages do you think they were trying to send? Families can also discuss the relationship between Diana and Maureen. How is their friendship portrayed? Is it realistic? What about their friendship makes the movie's final moments so harrowing and powerful?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: A touching tale from director Vadim Perelman with a surprise ending that leaves you plenty to ponder.

- Allan Hunter, Daily Express, Thursday, June 24, 2010

Fresh: Uma Thurman delivers a mesmerizing performance in The Life Before Her Eyes, a film that, once seen and fully digested, exerts the same haunting pull as the shattering events it chronicles.

- Ann Hornaday, Washington Post, Thursday, April 24, 2008

Rotten: Perelman] over-explains everything at the end with a montage of repeated scenes that ensures you never need see this film more than once.

- Anton Bitel, Little White Lies, Thursday, June 24, 2010

Audience Reviews

4 stars

It's funny how insignificant teenage years seem when you're actually living them. Culture and media tell us that they are the defining years, that we will all look back someday and see them as the turning points in our lives. I'm not totally sure I buy into it, but apparently Vadim Perelman does. We see the days and events that defined Miss Diana's life, and, big surprise, they all occur within those glorious teen years. I wonder if at some point in all of our lives we are completely filled, everything is finally how it should be. Then, something happens and we break, and the moment defines everything else, rewrites everything to happen thereafter. The film is emotionally devastating. Very rarely is a story this intense or affecting. There is a major plot change close to the end of the film and I didn't totally understand it. Depending on how it was to be taken, it sort of changes my perception of the film. Then again, that could have been the point. It is a beautiful, dense film and I really think it would take multiple viewings to understand everything that was communicated, grasp all of the meaning.

- neverteaseaweasel, Tuesday, August 17, 2010

3 stars

The Life Before Her Eyes opens up with the typical high school day of not really caring about classes and dishing on whos doing what with whom. But as Diana (Evan Rachel Wood) and Maureen (Eva Amurri) discuss life and death affairs in front of the bathroom mirror all hell breaks loose as a student, alienated and depressed, begins to pen fire throughout the school. Eventually he makes his way to the bathroom and the life changing event for these two girls. Flash to twenty years later and Diana (Uma Thurman) is married with a child, but the past still haunts her. The events of that day leave a thick cloud over her world and dictates what she does and where her child goes to school. As the anniversary of the event approaches Diana finds that it is allowing for her life to spiral out of control. This is an OK exercise in examining the teenagers we were and how they became the adults we are today. Wood and Amurri keep the audience interested while Uma begins to bore us to the point of annoyance. She either over sells it or under sells it and it coats the film in a funk that it doesnt really get out of. A competent film that youve never heard of it does present an interesting premise, yet director Vadim Perelman tends to go a little to artsy with the film. Its a slightly above average film at best that youll watch, roll over, go to sleep, and forget about in the morning like a nothing special dream.

- sononothing, Wednesday, June 23, 2010

3 stars

Brian M. Wixson, Eva Amurri, Evan Rachel Wood Diana is a suburban wife and mother who begins to question her seemingly perfect life--and perhaps her sanity--on the 15th anniversary of a tragic high school shooting that took the life of her best friend. In flashbacks, Diana is a vibrant high schooler who, with her shy best friend Maureen, plot typical teenage strategies--cutting class, fantasizing about boys--and vow to leave their sleepy suburb at the first opportunity. The older Diana, however, is haunted by the increasingly strained relationship she had with Maureen as day of the school shooting approached. These memories disrupt the idyllic life she's now leading with her professor husband Paul and their young daughter Emma. As older Diana's life begins to unravel and younger Diana gets closer and closer to the fatal day, a deeper mystery slowly unravels. Tragic, sad, and heart breaking. That's what I think of after seeing this movie. Such amazing performances by Evan Rachel Wood and Eva Amurri. This has to be my favorite performance by both of them. This movie takes you back and forth from the past to the present. It gets you right at the begining of the film. Two best friends standing in the bathroom pleading for their lives, and yet the killer with the gun says only one of them will die, and then he asks the most horrific question. "Which one of you do I kill?" Leaving it up to the best friends to decide which one of them should be left alive. It keeps you guessing as to what happens until the end. Some people are disappointed with the ending, and really didn't understand it. But I say take away from it what you will.

- LWOODS04, Sunday, November 29, 2009