The Life Before Her Eyes

Rated 4.0

Years after surviving a Columbine-like school massacre, a housewife (Uma Thurman) faces the anniversary with haunted memories. Emil Stern’s script (from Laura Kasischke’s novel) interweaves past and present in flash-back-and-forwards, with Evan Rachel Wood playing Thurman as a teenager. Acting is fine (Wood comes into her own, and Thurman has seldom been better), but we’re always aware that the story is a literary conceit, and director Vadim Perelman paces the film like a solemn pageant, a docent ushering us through an art gallery. Still, while the movie flirts with pretentiousness, it never drops off the deep end—and it slowly builds an emotional power that takes us by surprise; it becomes, in the end, a meditation on friendship, with Eva Amurri affecting as Wood’s pal who faces the killer with her.