School violence is given a dreamy gloss in The Life Before Her Eyes, an approach that ultimately glosses over the issue at hand.
Uma Thurman stars as Diana, a contemporary wife and mother who is still haunted by the high-school shooting she witnessed 15 years earlier. Flashbacks – with Evan Rachel Wood in the Diana part and a moving Eva Amurri as her best friend – dole out the specifics of the tragedy in careful dollops. The performances by Wood and Amurri are so strong that the picture could have abandoned the shooting storyline and simply settled in as a portrait of everyday teenage life. Instead, director Vadim Perelman fetishizes the threat of violence with his caressing camera. Meanwhile, the carefully structured plot comes dangerously close to exploiting real tragedy for the sake of suspense. The movie is beautifully thoughtless.