The Life Before Her Eyes


The Life Before Her Eyes

Critics Consensus

Despite earnest performances, Life Before Her Eyes is a confusing, painfully overwrought melodrama.



Total Count: 95


Audience Score

User Ratings: 8,724
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The Life Before Her Eyes Photos

Movie Info

Based on author Laura Kasischke's novel The Life Before Her Eyes, House of Sand and Fog director Vadim Perelman's provocative study of memory, morality, and conscience stars Uma Thurman as the guilt-ridden survivor of a harrowing, Columbine-like high-school shooting. To any outsider, Diana (played as a young girl by actress Evan Rachel Wood) and Maureen (Eva Amurri) were polar opposites; Diana was always questioning authority, while Maureen quietly went about fulfilling the expectations of her devoutly religious family. Yet it was precisely theses differences that drew the two girls to one another and found them gradually growing to become best friends. As with any anxious high-school student, Diana and Maureen both existed in that strange grey zone between childhood and adulthood that found them constantly pondering the endless possibilities that awaited them in the outside world. Flash forward years later, and Diana's (played as an adult by Thurman) life isn't anything like she imagined it would be as a young girl. As Diana's traumatic past gradually comes into focus, it soon becomes obvious that she was profoundly affected by a pivotal event that occurred just prior to her high-school graduation. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

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Uma Thurman
as Diana--Adult
Evan Rachel Wood
as Diana--Teen
Eva Amurri
as Maureen
Jack Gilpin
as Mr. McCleod
Maggie Lacey
as Amanda (adult)
Maggie Lacy
as Amanda--Adult
John Magaro
as Michael Patrick
Lynn Cohen
as Sister Beatrice
Molly Price
as Diana's Mother
Oliver Solomon
as Detective
Anna Renee Moore
as Blonde Student
Isabel Keating
as Maureen's Mother
Tanner Cohen
as Nate Witt
Aldous Davidson
as Diana's Student
Ann McDonough
as Librarian
Kia Jam
as Doctor
J.T. Arbogast
as Male Reporter
Jewel Donohue
as Mother at Shooting
Shaya Levine
as Page--Teen
Shayna Levine
as Page (Teen)
Evan Neumann
as Boy Kicked in Groin
Tuck Milligan
as Clinic Doctor
Jessica Calrson
as Girl at Shooting
Molly Schreger
as Female Student
T.J. Linnard
as Male Student
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Critic Reviews for The Life Before Her Eyes

All Critics (95) | Top Critics (33)

  • A hopelessly overblown melodrama, which oversteps its mark with pretensions of narrative complexity and social currency

    Aug 8, 2009 | Full Review…
  • [Perelman] over-explains everything at the end with a montage of repeated scenes that ensures you never need see this film more than once.

    Aug 7, 2009
  • Ambition and accomplishment are aeons apart in this would-be meaningful drama.

    Mar 27, 2009 | Rating: 1/6 | Full Review…
  • Surely the point of a "twist" is that it should slot into the plot with a satisfying click, not that it should invalidate 50 per cent of what came before it?

    Mar 27, 2009 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…

    Wendy Ide

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • Vadim Perelman's drama is both tasteful and tedious. With its honeyed visuals, affluent air and coy portents of disaster, it's like an advert for private health care played out on an endless loop.

    Mar 27, 2009 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

    Xan Brooks

    Top Critic
  • In the end, Life is a challenging success, with Wood's performance again affirming her status among the young generation of actors, and Perelman's vision promising more intrigue to come.

    May 2, 2008 | Rating: B | Full Review…

    Tom Long

    Detroit News
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Life Before Her Eyes

  • Jan 07, 2014
    Uma Thurman and Evan Rachel Wood star in the dramatic thriller The Life Before Her Eyes. During a high school shooting two girls hide out in a bathroom and one of them is forced into making a choice that haunts the rest of her life. It's a rather intricate story that's told in flashbacks; so as to build suspense and mystery as to what happen during the shooting. And, there are some interesting reveals that add an extra layer of subtext to the film. Additionally, Wood gives a particularly strong and dynamic performance that's quite compelling. The Life Before Her Eyes has some problems with its pacing, but overall it delivers a powerful message about the choices we make in life.
    Dann M Super Reviewer
  • Feb 17, 2011
    This film reminded me of 'Stay'. But while I liked 'Stay', I didn't like this one much. The story is told in an unconventional way, and that's what goes against this movie. It was told in a very complex and confusing way, which while maybe smart and brilliant, but wasn't a fair decision in this case. The ambiguity wasn't applied effectively and I guess that the shoddy screenplay is to be blamed for that. On the other hand, I found the main plot of the movie to be quite impressive. Could have been far better... if only they'd executed it in an appropriate manner!!! The thoughtless and careless use of the subject matter makes the movie rated much lower than what it would otherwise have been worth of.
    familiar s Super Reviewer
  • Sep 23, 2010
    Drama about a woman named Diana who begins to question her life when she can't recover from a horrible event that happened at her old school years previously despite appearing to have got married, had a daughter and have a decent career. The action weaves between Diana's school life, the young Diana played by Evan Rachel Wood in a great performance and her grown up life as we learn how aspects of her her life seem to travel in circles until the final twist. A well acted and made darma/thriller.
    Adam M Super Reviewer
  • Aug 29, 2010
    Evan Rachel Wood and Uma Thurman play Diana in two different eras, which are intertwined throughout the movie. The younger Diana is wild and carefree teenager who is best friends with Maureen (played by Eva Amurri), who is shy and more subdued. They are faced with a traumatic ordeal as a school shooter traps them in a restroom and asks them to choose which one of them should die. Fifteen years in the future, the older Diana is a married mother who appears to have a perfect life, but it seems to be unraveling as the anniversary of the school shootings comes closer. The movie has a dream-like effect, not unlike Stay, which adds to the overall effect of the story. It's not an easy story to get through, as the topic is a horrifying reality; and there are also lot of controversial elements, which leads to many interpretations of the film. This film goes beyond the usual films of school shootings, into the haunting aftermath.
    nefnie l Super Reviewer

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