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"Her Life Before Her Eyes" * 1/2

Sunday April 13th, 2008

What a mess! The guest moderator at Cinema Sundays at The Charles mentioned that it was ambiguous. I will add that it is an ambiguous mess!! I was hesitant from the start as the early reviews were verrry mixed (3 out 7 positive at the time on Rotten Tomatoes) but I so loved Vadim Perelman's first film (2003's great "The House Of Sand And Fog"), and was a fan of Evan Rachel Ward ("13"), and Uma is always nice on the eyes. But, ALAS, I should have heeded my initial feelings. The screening wasn't a total $$$ loss: The after discussion was well worth the price of admission. For the first time that I can remember, host, Jonathan Palevsky disagreed with this week's speaker, forensic psychologist Dr. Larry Raifman, as to what the hell the movie was even about! And that was after both of them had just screened it for the second time!! After Jonathan expounded his interpretation, nearly everyone in the crowd wanted to question his "logic". The bottom line question: Was it worth the 90 minutes to even try and figure this one out? Based on a novel by Laura Kasischke, the focus is on 17 year old high schooler Diana (Wood) who is confronted with a Columbine-type gunman in the ladies room with her best friend (a nice turn by Susan Sarandon's daughter, Eva Amurri). She then must choose who lives between the two of them. Flash forward 15 years to an older Diana (Thurman), who has settled into a family with her professor husband and child. It is approaching the 15 year anniversary of the tragedy and we see Diana slowly dissolve into angst and depression as the day approaches. Meanwhile, the story is flashing backwards and forwards throughout as we learn bits and pieces about the developing relationship between wild gal Diana and her goody 2 shoes friend, Maureen, as well as the relationship Diana is having with her family. So, you may be wondering, why all the discussion? That would involve spoilers so all I'll say is that it might have looked great on paper, but the screenplay and it's execution (despite the better than average photography and score by James Horner) is, well, a mess.