Posted by: Pinar Tarhan | October 25, 2009

Life Before Her Eyes (2007)


You should either have watched the movie, or you really shouldn’t mind spoilers. Because I’m going to dig deep with this one.



Brett Cullen plays Diana's husband

When you really like a movie, you don’t really have to go out of your ways to find reasons to explain why you liked it. And when you really didn’t enjoy it, even little things bug you. For me, I really don’t know where I stand with this movie. During the first half, I found myself lost in the story. I was mesmerized.

Uma Thurman has become one of my favorite actresses to watch. She has grown up from the young innocent looking girl to this incredibly beautiful and talented woman. She was good to watch in her earlier roles in movies like Dangerous Liaisons, Gattaca, Tape and later on in Prime. She is versatile; like any good actress should be.

I was curious about Evan Rachel Wood. She became so popular lately and I hadn’t seen really seen her in anything before and this was a chance to see if she was a promising actress. She is.

The movie gave me a good surprise too. I didn’t know Brett Cullen was in it until the opening credits rolled and I have always loved seeing him. Seriously. No matter how big or small his role is, you bring Cullen on any time. Yes, I admit I have had a bit of a crush on him ever since I first saw him in Something to Talk About. He is handsome on a very classy level and has this aura that suggests you can trust him; which makes him good for the nice guy parts and even better for the not so nice parts, since you wouldn’t really see it coming.

So three good actors, a wonderfully sad& tragic event told in flashbacks. So far so good. Let me go over the story.

Diana is in her 30s, living in suburbia with her loving husband and beautiful little daughter. They have a beautiful home and a great family. But it is a tough time for Diana. 15 years ago, her school witnessed one of the worst tragedies ever. One of her classmates brings a gun to school and shoots almost everyone. Diana and her best friend Maureen are in the girls’ room when the boy finds them. He says that he is going to shoot only one of them so they have to choose. It is horrible. It is terrifying. Both girls are scared shitless, and in shock. But Maureen suggests that if he is going to shoot one, he should shoot Maureen.

Diana (Uma Thurman) has led a good life. A life that seems like Maureen would have wanted for herself, had she lived. You see, Maureen has been the good little Christian. She was a loving friend, a dutiful daughter, a church-going virgin who really wanted to get married and have kids. She was the one with romantic fantasies. Diana (young Diana is played by Evan Rachel Wood) on the other hand was a rebel. She smoked pot, wasn’t exactly the best student and she slept with boy(s). She even had to get an abortion. Maureen was there for her as always. They were really different, but they had a strong bond and a true friendship.

So Diana still feels guilty, 15 years later. She has stayed in town, like Maureen would. She has got the husband and kid and the teaching job. Hell, her daughter even goes to a school run by the nuns.

As the movie progresses, she starts to lose control. She remembers more and more about her time with Maureen and her mind frequently revisits the day of the shooting. She also seems to have hallucinations. Things seem a certain way for a moment and then…they don’t.

So I’m thinking, it should be the post-traumatic stress coming back. I mean, it might have been 15 years but it was an awful tragedy. Her best friend was killed by a psychopath. Hell, almost all of the school was killed by him. Moreover, he told her about his plans the day before and she didn’t take him seriously. So, it is OK for her to be “losing it”. It is expected. Half the movie, I expected her to open her bathroom cabinet and reveal to us that she has been using anti-depressants. Otherwise, how could she stay in the same town and drive by the same school everyday, on her way to drop her daughter off? You should have to be heavily medicated or well, some sort of a masochist.

We go back to that bathroom scene a lot. Too many times, in fact. And then voila! We go back there one last time and we actually find out that it was Diana who was shot, not Maureen. Because Diana tells the guy to shoot her, repeatedly. So the guy does what Diana asks. He shoots Diana. So apparently it was Diana’s life before her eyes- just not as flashbacks as most people admit to experience as they feel they are going to go but vivid, coherent (most of the time) flashforwards. So basically picturing her future life, she decides she can not live with that guilt. She chooses to save her best friend instead. While it is a noble act, it also naturally creates a controversy between the viewers.

I know movies always divide people but this one was actually more than asking for it. Some hate the movie because they believe it is a pro-Christian/anti-abortion movie. I honestly hadn’t seen that one coming. They feel like that the fact the good Christian lives and the “slut” dies insults them. Some believe it is a poetic movie with just the right ending. Some don’t have problem with the ending, they just find the whole movie boring. But having visited some discussion boards, I really didn’t come across anyone who thought Diana had to have a mental problem. I was actually hoping to explain the ending like this: She felt so guilty after all those years and that in order to get a closure , she pictured and/or wished a different ending for what happened.Otherwise, I really have to agree with the others who think that the fact that she can have such a flashforward is absurd. I don’t mean you can’t think your future when you are at gunpoint. I have never been at gunpoint, so I have no insight to what you may or you may not think. But I can claim that it is downright bullshit that she could have imagined all that. Because she had what? 10 seconds? And she had time to develop an alternate life in the future with so many details? It is humanly impossible to generate that many thoughts in such a little time. In fact, I don’t remember even a sci-fi movie with a character who could generate that much thought, in that little time.

This movie actually had the opposite effect on me, compared to the effect of watching The Sixth Sense. I thought that movie was slow to watch. But the ending paid off. The ending made it all worthwhile. But here, the ending made me feel like I wish I hadn’t seen it.

I am not saying you should stay away from the movie, but I can’t whole-heartedly recommend it either. I expected the movie to blow me away. And it did. Then it also put me off. Told you, mixed feelings. Maybe it is because I cared more about having Diana alive rather than Maureen. It just feels like one of those movies where you go with the flow and really enjoy it. And then the main character wakes up. What do you know!!! She had a dream. And you are like What the ….???


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