Told through a series of flashbacks and present moments, The Life Before Her Eyes is as powerful as it is innovative. Taking you inside the lives of one person, young and old, during different times of their lives, the film brings a sense of belonging and fear to those in the seats as it makes you put your own actions into perspective, fearing your next unwanted encounter.
Unaffected by restrictions or authority, Diana can't wait to be considered a legal adult. Wasting away her time at high school, Diana chooses to push the limits with sex and drugs while her friend, Maureen, watches on in bewilderment. But when an unexpected act of violence shatters Diana's layer of invincibility, both friends know that their lives will never be the same. Fifteen years later, a more mature Diana is still trying to cope with the events of that daunting day as her own daughter begins to show signs of a strong rebellion phase. A phase that caused her own mother to go crazy some years before.
Giving a performance unlike any other, Evan Rachel Wood successfully grasps the young Diana, bringing both her and her rebellious ways to life. From her body language to her dialogue and physical interactions, Wood represents a real-life troubled teen who can't wait to enter the adult phase of her life. However, what really amazed me was Wood's ability to represent her character without leading to the film's final climatic finish.
Playing the part of a young character, who is also represented at a later stage in life, Wood knows where her character is going and ultimately what actions are going to be taken in relation to her choices. Yet, Wood was able to control her preconceived knowledge. And with that, she proves herself a strong actress and helps give the vibe of a raw and real film.
In addition, Uma Thurman, who has led a very successful career, gives her best performance in years as the adult Diana. Dealt the difficult hand of representing change, Thurman is forced to be noticeably different than her immature counterpart. She must present a 'growing' aspect in relation to the traumatizing experience that she went through during high school and though it may seem easy, I must mention that the energy and complexity that Thurman was able to bring to the screen was truly mesmerizing. Her actions, words and hesitations all came together to form a strong, independent character. One that has learned from her past mistakes yet is still not completely comfortable with her 'new' life. The role is deep and emotional, and though Thurman is more known for her kick-ass roles, she succeeds here with flying colors.
And then we have Eva Amurri who plays Diana's polar-opposite friend in high school. Playing the sidekick, you expect Amurri to stay in the background and allow the story to form around her co-stars. However, she doesn't do that. Instead she demands your attention with her unbreakable chemistry with Wood and her shockingly direct delivery. And though her role is secondary to that of Diana, Amurri is still able to keep your attention, yet not distract you from the story. Through this equal balance it becomes quite clear that this actress is only beginning to turn great roles into stellar films.
But with all that said, I do want to comment on the powerful script from which this story comes from. Written for the screen by Emil Stern, The Life Before Her Eyes is as strong and emotionally charged as they come. And covering such controversial topics as sex, drugs and school violence, I have to give the entire cast and crew props for breaking down boundaries and recognizing an amazing story. And most of all, for making it, so that we, as audience members, can experience such a dramatic, thought provoking film that will have viewers talking for months.